Is your teen always on their phone, even when they’re at the dinner table or doing homework? Does your teen get anxious if they’re not around their phone? If so, your teen may be suffering from nomophobia.
What is Nomophobia?
Nomophobia, an abbreviation of the phrase “no-mobile-phone-phobia”, is the fear of being without a mobile phone. Approximately 66% of people suffer from nomophobia, with a study finding that the stress levels that nomophobiacs experience when they can’t access their phone is on par with wedding day jitters or trips to the dentist. Some teens have such a high level of nomophobia that they experience higher blood pressure and heart rates if they have to go a day without their phone.
Signs and symptoms of nomophobia include an inability to turn off a mobile device, feelings of panic if a phone’s battery dies or goes out of service, constant checking that one’s phone is with them, obsessively checking for social media messages or missed calls and an obsession with the gratification that comes from “likes,” comments or retweets.
The Negative Impacts of Nomophobia
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Many nomophobic teens rely on their mobile phones for protection from social situations and face-to-face conversations, while others use their phone constantly to distract themselves from unpleasant feelings such as anxiety, discomfort or stress. As a result, nomophobic teens don’t learn how to deal with anxiety-inducing situations or feelings in healthy ways, such as by talking it out with someone, getting exercise or engaging in a hobby such as music or writing.
Some teens check their phones every few minutes, resulting in a constant break in focus from the task at hand, like homework or a conversation. This may result in a decrease in overall focus and may even shorten a teen’s attention span.
How Nomophobia May be Affecting Your Teen’s Life
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A recent study found that teens would rather lose their pinky finger than give up their cell phone, while another study found that 40% of teens believe that losing their phone would be a bigger hardship than losing their car. If your teen is a nomophobe, they may be missing out on social situations with their friends because they’re preoccupied with their phone or may be masking underlying issues such as depression or stress that could be affecting their mental health.
Ways to Limit Your Teen’s Cell Phone Usage
Limiting the amount of time that your teen spends on their phone is a good way to help with nomophobia. You could do this is by removing the data option from their cell phones and only giving your teens the home wifi password after their homework is done, keeping their cell phone tucked away while they are at school or in bed or by limiting the amount of text messages they can send per month.
Almost any teen can be affected by nomophobia, especially when you consider that nearly every teenager has access to a mobile phone. If you’re concerned that your teen is a nomophobe, start setting limits regarding their cell phone usage and talk with them about your concerns.
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