You may not have heard of nomophobia because people who suffer from it may not even realize they have a problem.
According to the Cambridge dictionary, nomophobia refers to the fear that comes with inaccessibility to mobile phones. This has been considered a syndrome of excessive use of mobile phones contrary to mental health. The lack of connection between mobile phones and the internet is one of the major causes of nomophobia.
According to a recent survey, 43% of people say that their phones are their most valuable possession. Strikingly, as well, the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 exposed people to the online world, especially the youth. They became attached to their devices due to the lockdown regulations. It served as a means of staying connected to their friends and families. Online jobs became rampant, and there was also an increase in the use of social media to maintain relationships as well as form new ones. The use of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram led users to this form of addiction. Many people who were not consistent in the media world began to seek it out like it was the only means of survival.
Although technology has added positively to human lives, nevertheless, the negative effects seem to overshadow the former. The psychological effect of mobile devices cannot be overemphasized.
Moving on, the post-pandemic era does not help reduce this addiction. Most people are still addicted to their mobile devices. This has led to a drastic change in social life as young people have lost touch with the real world outside the fantasy world created by technology. The effect of excessive screen time has increased psychological stress, loneliness, depression, lack of concentration, and the mother of all, nomophobia.
The causes and how they have affected people are as follows: First off, addiction causes people to have fewer sleep hours and to be more inactive. Youths who exhibit phone addiction end up becoming worn out.
Furthermore, loneliness is also another factor for many people, especially those who are constantly on social media. Some people feel uneasy whenever they are alone in quiet surroundings, and they turn to technology to fill that void. Thus, this can lead to depression.
Nomophobia is one of the major effects of the pandemic. It is also the short form for “no mobile phobia.” A study was conducted among undergraduate students in the health service, and it was found that out of 547 males, 23% of the students were labelled as nomophobic. Almost 77% of students checked their cell phones more than 35 times per day. Philip J. speaks on phobias: Do we really need to worry about this? (Rev Prog. 2013; 1:1–5.)
This has caused a loss of concentration among students, and the extreme use of mobile phones by youth has made it difficult for them to focus when reading their books.
In conclusion, we use our devices for so many things, but we do not want the usage to become extreme, causing us to have a post-pandemic syndrome or nomophobia. Overcoming it requires absolute focus, not on the phones but on real-life situations—meeting people, interacting with them, reading, exercising, et cetera. These can be achieved by taking the first step of limiting the time wasted on frivolous activities on the phone.
Lois Atselefun writes from Lagos State University.