Nomophobia (no-mobile-phone phobia) is defined by Wikipedia as the fear of being out of mobile contact. The term was coined during a study by the UK Post Office (2008) who commissioned YouGov, a UK-based research organization to look at anxieties suffered by mobile phone users.

Here are a few findings from the study:

  • 53% of mobile phone users in Britain tend to be anxious when they ‘lose their mobile phone, run out of batter/credit, or have no network coverage’.
  • 58% of men and 48% of women suffer from the phobia, and an additional 9% feel stressed when their mobile phones are off.

In a recent Huffington Post article, they cite a more recent study by SecurEnvoy, which states that 67% of respondent are afraid of losing or being with their mobile phones. In fact, 41% are so worried, they own two or more phones. It goes on to say that women (70%) are more worried than men (61%) about being without a phone, but that could be because men are more likely to have multiple phones than women (47% compared to 36%). It’s not surprising that 18-24 year old people are the most nomophobic (77%).

You may ask yourself, how do I know if I have nomophobia?

  • Do you use your mobile phone more than 3 hours a day?
  • Do you resort to your phone in times of boredom, loneliness or insecurity?
  • Do you stumble while walking and using your mobile device?
  • Have you ever been in an accident while using your mobile device?
  • Do you check your phone 30+ times a day?
  • When you’re in a social setting, do you interact with your phone than the people around you?
  • Do you always wear a Bluetooth headset?
  • Do you sleep with your cell phone next to you?
  • Do you have pain in your thumbs due to excessive mobile phone use?

Like myself, you may so no to most those questions and then ask who could text soo much that their thumbs hurt? In a True Life’ episode on MTV there are two girls who are putting their relationships, health and even their safety on the line to maintain their digital addictions. One of the girls is a high school senior who sends over 14,000 texts a month and her non-stop messaging is damaging her hand and hurting her chance to play volleyball in college. Could you imagine what she must be like on a day without her phone? Yikes!

So as a business, why should you care about nomophobia? Well, this confirms that today’s consumers are addicted to their phones. People are clearly spending more time being ‘social’ and shopping on their device. You should already be asking yourself, ‘Does my company have a mobile strategy?’

If not, here are 4 steps to a mobile strategy: 1) Set your objectives, 2) Understand your audience, 3) Define your strategy and 4) Choose the mobile media

A mobile strategy could include SMS/Text-messaging, MMS (Multi-Media Messaging Service), Mobile Web, Downloadable Applications, IVR (Integrated Voice Response), Mobile Advertising (Banner Ads).

Some businesses may feel as though they are taking advantage of those with nomophobia, but please consider everyone has the ability to turn off their phones and there are support groups available for those who suffer from nomophobia.


4 comments on “Nomophobia

  1. Kelly McIvor
    March 30, 2012 at 10:16 am #

    If the big pharmaceutical companies get hold of this there will be a pill you can take for it! Maybe call it Maxil or Mozac.

  2. Kim Sklar
    March 31, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    I feel like this should be an SNL skit 🙂 It does remind me of the quote from IN-NW about how most people are only three feet away from their phone at all times. That could be one of the predictors of nomophobia too.

    “Is your phone within a three feet radius of you at all times? Did you just have a small panic attack when you thought about that question and wondered where your phone was?”

  3. Mike Burlin
    April 1, 2012 at 10:45 pm #

    Sadly, I probably answer “yes” to more of those questions than I’d like to admit. Participating in the National Day of Unplugging was a nice reminder that mobile “super users” (for the lack of a better term to describe those who use mobile a lot, but are not quite addicted) need to be vigilant about setting boundaries around their habits.

    One thing I find really compelling is how designers, manufacturers, and engineers are envisioning the future of mobile – one that doesn’t rely on such a physical form factor. I’m just unsure if being able to send 14,000 text messages just by “thinking” them is better or worse than sending 14,000 on your smartphone.


  1. Dead Zones | Bizzy Tales - April 15, 2012

    […] while ago a friend posted about nomophobia, the fear of being without one’s phone. I am in kind of a middle ground on this one; I am […]

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