We’ve all felt it – that sense of dread and worry when we realise we’ve left our smartphone behind after we’ve gone out.
Of course you’d feel anxious. After all, you won’t be able to check social media for hours, you could miss dozens of important calls and how can you get through a day without taking a few selfies and Snapchatting them to your friends?
But did you know that smartphone separation anxiety is actually a medically recognised condition – and that it’s a problem that’s getting worse?
According to researchers at Sungkyunkwan University and the City University of Hong Kong, this condition is known as nomophobia.
Symptoms include checking your phone obsessively, taking your phone to the bathroom, constantly charging it up and not being able to turn your handset off.
While we won’t go as far as saying that you’re definitely suffering from nomophobia, chances are you’re probably guilty of exhibiting at least one or two of these habits.
It’s therefore not surprising to learn from the experts that it’s becoming a growing problem.
Scientists involved in the study believe this is because people are increasingly storing digital memories on their smartphone.
As a result, the devices start to be perceived as an extension of themselves. Therefore, they are more likely to get attached to their handset, which “in turn leads to nomophobia by heightening the phone proximity-seeking tendency”.
Since the sheer breadth of functions that smartphones can perform is growing all the time, the scientists believe nomophobia will become more and more common.
“Dependency on smartphones is likely to continue to increase, as the advancement of technology continues to make smartphones increasingly appealing and indispensable by adding various convenient and powerful features that facilitate ubiquitous communication,” researchers said.
“Nomophobia, therefore, is also likely to become more rampant, synchronously with the increase in time spent using smartphones.”
Even though we’re certainly smartphone enthusiasts, we’d certainly caution against using them so much that you’re actually hooked.
Smartphones can genuinely enhance your life, but they should not get in the way of your life. So if you feel like you’re getting a bit too anxious when you’re separated from your handset, try taking a few baby steps so you’re used to the separation.
For instance, leave it in another room while you’re sat at the dinner table, so you pay full attention to the people you are sat with.
Alternatively, switch it off when you go to bed, so you aren’t tempted to stay up late checking it or start using it if you wake up in the middle of the night.
These small steps will help to make you feel less dependent on your handset, so you won’t get that crippling sense of anxiety if you don’t have it immediately to hand.
By all means, use your smartphone and take advantage of everything it has to offer, but it’s certainly best to maintain a healthy relationship with your device in order to get the most out of it each day.