Nomophobia: are we really addicted to our mobile phones?

Are we really addicted to our mobile phones?

Let’s face it, mobile phones are everywhere; on our dinner tables, on our billboards and even in our classrooms. You can’t move without seeing someone texting furiously away, or checking their phone for messages, missed calls or notifications.

Scientists termed the addiction to mobile phones ‘Nomophobia’-no-mobile phobia- back in 2008 after it emerged that the UK population was becoming somewhat glued to their portable devices.  

So are we really addicted to our mobile phones, or are we simply making the most of the incredible technology that’s on offer?

Simply walking through a shopping centre on my way home each day I have started to notice just how many customers in a certain Portuguese chicken restaurant happen to have their mobile phones laid on the table, presumably to ensure that they don’t miss a call, text or Facebook notification while they’re eating their dinner.

And while mobiles weren’t quite as big when I was growing up, I was always taught that using a phone at the table was simply bad manners. So have we lost all touch of when it is and isn’t acceptable to use our mobiles when in company, or is simply an addiction that we just can’t stop?

Mobile phone survey

I conducted a small survey to gauge exactly what it was that made us addicted to our mobile phones, and the results weren’t particularly shocking.

Social Media

Over 40 per cent of the people asked said that they were most obsessed with checking their social media notifications. With apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and LinkedIn, it’s hardly surprising that we spend most of our time updating, checking and posting on them.

Emma, a sales manager from Birmingham, said: “even when I know I haven’t got a notification, I still find myself scrolling through Facebook to see what my friends are getting up to.”

I myself would admit that I check my Facebook and Twitter feeds far too often, especially when I’m on the train, or during the adverts between TV programs. But what else makes us addicted to our mobile phones?

Whatsapp

Another app which people I asked admitted to being addicted to includes Whatsapp, the free messaging service which allows you to send messages to anyone worldwide via the internet.

Raveen Sandhu, an online marketing assistant, told me that she uses Whatsapp constantly throughout the day “not only because it’s free, but because you can see when the other person has seen your message”.

Even a quick poll around the office showed that most people send messages, whether it’s using Whatsapp or the more traditional text, frequently throughout the day. And because many people keep their phones switched to silent during working hours, checking your phone for messages even if you haven’t sent or received any is something which most people will admit to regularly doing.  

Taking photos

Taking photos is another activity which makes our everyday lives revolve around our mobile phones, and with the quality of most smartphone cameras, it is easier than ever to simply whip your phone out of your pocket whenever the moment takes you.

When I asked graphic designer Melissa Holterman, what she used her phone for most, she admitted that she loved taking photos, describing herself as “A bit of an Instagram hipster”.

It also emerged that most people confessed to taking photos of food; Lauren Percival from Manchester joked that “everything I eat gets its photo taken!”

But surely developing our creative talents through photography can’t be that damaging...can it?

Are mobile phones ruining relationships?

The Telegraph recently reported that our obsession with mobile phones is actually having a detrimental effect on our relationships. A growing proportion of adults, mainly young people, use or check their phones when in the company of friends and family.  

Many critics are concerned that young people will lose touch with normal forms of communication, instead only being able to socialise via emails, messages and online interactions. For instance, have you ever sent an instant message to a family member when you’re in the same house, or worse still, in the same room? While you might be nodding, how likely is it that technology will really replace verbal conversation?

Join the debate on Facebook, Twitter or Google+. Alternatively, to post a comment below.

Written by Charlotte Kertrestel

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