Glossophobia–or the fear of speaking in public–has long been said to be the number one phobia, with 75 percent of people suffering from a form of it. However, a new fear–nomophobia–is said to be rising and may soon replace glossophobia as our greatest fear.
What is nomophobia? According to a 2008 survey of 2163 adults in the UK by YouGov plc underwritten by the UK Post Office Telecoms who coined the term, it is supposedly “the fear of being out of mobile phone contact,” i.e., a no mobile phone phobia.
(Note, "nomophobia" is not a recognized phobia by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, however.)
According to a Daily Mail article at the time,
“Experts say nomophobia could affect up to 53 per cent of mobile phone users, with 48 per cent of women and 58 per cent of men questioned admitting to experiencing feelings of anxiety when they run out of battery or credit, lose their phone or have no network coverage.”
Apparently, the nomophobia survey findings so concerned the UK Post Office that it created a nomophobia memory guide (pdf) with all sorts of helpful ways to improve your memory so as to not lose your phone.
A recent Daily Mail article now reports that nomophobia affects 66 percent of UK adults. The signs of nomophobia, according to the Daily Mail are:
- An inability to ever turn your phone off
- Obsessively checking for missed calls, emails and texts
- Constantly topping up your battery life
- Being unable to pop to the bathroom without taking your phone in with you.
The Daily Mail cites a 2012 survey by the security company SecurEnvoy that states that young people aged 18-24 are the most nomophobic (77 percent), while those in the 25–34 age group are second at 68 percent. In addition, some 41 percent of those surveyed carry two (or more) phones to make sure they are never out of contact.
Furthermore, people on average check their phone 34 times a day the SecurEnvoy study claims (as comparison, this New York Times article cites a study from 2008 that reports that a “typical information worker” checks his or her email program more than 50 times a day).
SecurEnvoy undertook the study in part to see how important securing their phone is in case of it being stolen or lost, which apparently happens a lot. Unsurprisingly, some 46 percent of those surveyed don’t use any type of security on their phones, while 41 percent use a four pin access code, 10 percent encrypt their phones and the remaining 3 percent use two factor authentication technology.
So, do you suffer from "nomophobia," and does it extend to other mobile devices (iPadaphobia or Kindophobia?) as well?
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.