Nomophobia is the fear of being out of mobile phone contact.
It is, however, arguable that the word “phobia” is misused and that in the majority of cases it is only a normal anxiety.
Although nomophobia does not appear in the current DSM-V, it has been proposed as a “specific phobia”, based on definitions given in the DSM-IV.
According to Bianchi and Philips (2005) psychological factors are involved in the overuse of a mobile phone. These could include low self-esteem, when individuals looking for reassurance use the mobile phone in inappropriate ways, and extroverted personality, when naturally social individuals use the mobile phone to excess.
It is also highly possible that nomophobic symptoms may be caused by other underlying and preexisting mental disorders, with likely candidates including social phobia or social anxiety disorder, social anxiety, and panic disorder.
The term, an abbreviation for “no-mobile-phone phobia”, was coined during a 2010 study by the UK Post Office who commissioned YouGov, a UK-based research organization to look at anxieties suffered by mobile phone users.
The study found that nearly 53% of mobile phone users in Britain tend to be anxious when they “lose their mobile phone, run out of battery or credit, or have no network coverage”.
The study found that about 58% of men and 47% of women suffer from the phobia, and an additional 9% feel stressed when their mobile phones are off.
The study sampled 2,163 people. Fifty-five percent of those surveyed cited keeping in touch with friends or family as the main reason that they got anxious when they could not use their mobile phones.
The study compared stress levels induced by the average case of nomophobia to be on-par with those of “wedding day jitters” and trips to the dentist.
Another study found that out of 547 male, undergraduate students in Health Services 23% of the students were classified as nomophobic while an additional 64% were at risk of developing nomophobia.
Of these students, ~77% checked their mobile phones 35 or more times a day.
More than one in two nomophobes never switch off their mobile phones.
The study and subsequent coverage of the phobia resulted in two editorial columns authored by those who minimize their mobile phone use or choose not to own one at all, treating the condition with light undertones of or outright disbelief and amusement.