NetGuide NZ - Are you addicted to your smartphone?

Warning: This story was published more than a year ago.
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Are you addicted to your smartphone?

There’s been a lot of media focus on smartphone addiction, with one recent story claiming that “smartphones have stolen my life”.

Alarmist headlines aside, a recent AVG security survey also found that kids feel neglected as parents gaze at their smartphones rather than paying them attention. Watching kids these days as they gaze at that small bit of plastic in their hand I’m more inclined to wonder just how many parents are feeling neglected by their kids?

The reality is however that smartphones may be the 21st century equivalent of the cigarette. Smartphone addiction has even been given its own term - nomophobia ("no mobile phone" phobia). 

This said, in reading a lot of the articles scattered around the net, it struck me that it is all too easy to abdicate responsibility and to place the blame on an inanimate gadget. 

Blaming a smartphone for not communicating with family/colleagues/friends or even pets seems to me to be a whole like blaming an electric drill for your lousy life. 

So let’s get one thing straight; a smartphone is just a tool. It is not responsible for transforming you into an uncommunicative bore.  
Interestingly, smartphone addiction has attracted its own field of academic study. There’s even a survey developed by the University of Missouri that can help people identify how seriously at risk they are from nomophobia.

Before you scoff and utter “pfft… Mobile phone addiction yeah right”, consider this; how many times have you walked out of your house and checked your pockets/handbags to make sure your smartphone is with you? How many times have you gone back inside to get it?

The degree to which people are getting hooked on smartphones isn’t all that surprising. Researchers at the University of Missouri found that many people see smartphones as an extension of themselves and unsurprisingly experience varying degrees of anxiety when separated from them.

With Twitter, Facebook, email, SMS, foursquare, whatsapp and Google+ all vying for your attention 24/7, 365 days a year, the temptation to pick up your smartphone and to distractedly gaze and swipe at it can be incredibly strong.

So is nomophobia a real thing? Scouring Google reveals that the term came out of a study carried out in the UK by SecurEnvoy, a mobile security service. The study found that 66 percent of Brits could in theory qualify as being nomophobic - up from 53 percent in the first study carried out in 2008.  The first study findings created a media frenzy when it first came out, however my inner cynic noted that few media outlets bothered to see if the study was peer reviewed or merely a publicity stunt for SecureEnvoy. 

Either way, the term nomophobia has stuck. 

More recent studies have found that women tend to be more predisposed to nomophobia (71 percent of sufferers were women). Age is also a factor, with younger people more susceptible - particularly 18 to 24 year olds.

 

So are you suffering from nomophobia? Take this survey developed by the University of Missouri to find out. Rate each question using the a scale of 1 ("I disagree") to 7 ("I strongly agree") and add up your score.

I would feel uncomfortable without constant access to information through my smartphone.
1 Strongly Disagree 
2 
3 
4  Neither Agree or Disagree
5 
6 
7 Strongly Agree 

I would be annoyed if I could not look information up on my smartphone when I wanted to do so.
1 Strongly Disagree 
2 
3 
4  Neither Agree or Disagree
5 
6 
7 Strongly Agree 

Being unable to get the news (e.g., happenings, weather, etc.) on my smartphone would make me nervous.
1 Strongly Disagree 
2 
3 
4  Neither Agree or Disagree
5 
6 
7 Strongly Agree 

I would be annoyed if I could not use my smartphone and/or its capabilities when I wanted to do so.
1 Strongly Disagree 
2 
3 
4  Neither Agree or Disagree
5 
6 
7 Strongly Agree 

Running out of battery in my smartphone would scare me.
1 Strongly Disagree 
2 
3 
4  Neither Agree or Disagree
5 
6 
7 Strongly Agree 

If I were to run out of credits or hit my monthly data limit, I would panic.
1 Strongly Disagree 
2 
3 
4  Neither Agree or Disagree
5 
6 
7 Strongly Agree 

If I did not have a data signal or could not connect to Wi-Fi, then I would constantly check to see if I had a signal or could find a Wi-Fi network.
1 Strongly Disagree 
2 
3 
4  Neither Agree or Disagree
5 
6 
7 Strongly Agree 

If I could not use my smartphone, I would be afraid of getting stranded somewhere.
1 Strongly Disagree 
2 
3 
4  Neither Agree or Disagree
5 
6 
7 Strongly Agree 

If I could not check my smartphone for a while, I would feel a desire to check it.
1 Strongly Disagree 
2 
3 
4  Neither Agree or Disagree
5 
6 
7 Strongly Agree 

If I did not have my smartphone with me ...

I would feel anxious because I could not instantly communicate with my family and/or friends.
1 Strongly Disagree 
2 
3 
4  Neither Agree or Disagree
5 
6 
7 Strongly Agree 

I would be worried because my family and/or friends could not reach me.
1 Strongly Disagree 
2 
3 
4  Neither Agree or Disagree
5 
6 
7 Strongly Agree 

I would feel nervous because I would not be able to receive text messages and calls.
1 Strongly Disagree 
2 
3 
4  Neither Agree or Disagree
5 
6 
7 Strongly Agree 
 
I would be anxious because I could not keep in touch with my family and/or friends.
1 Strongly Disagree 
2 
3 
4  Neither Agree or Disagree
5 
6 
7 Strongly Agree 

I would be nervous because I could not know if someone had tried to get a hold of me.
1 Strongly Disagree 
2 
3 
4  Neither Agree or Disagree
5 
6 
7 Strongly Agree 

I would feel anxious because my constant connection to my family and friends would be broken.
1 Strongly Disagree 
2 
3 
4  Neither Agree or Disagree
5 
6 
7 Strongly Agree 

I would be nervous because I would be disconnected from my online identity.
1 Strongly Disagree 
2 
3 
4  Neither Agree or Disagree
5 
6 
7 Strongly Agree 

I would be uncomfortable because I could not stay up-to-date with social media and online networks.
1 Strongly Disagree 
2 
3 
4  Neither Agree or Disagree
5 
6 
7 Strongly Agree 

I would feel awkward because I could not check my notifications for updates from my connections and online networks.
1 Strongly Disagree 
2 
3 
4  Neither Agree or Disagree
5 
6 
7 Strongly Agree 

I would feel anxious because I could not check my email messages.
1 Strongly Disagree 
2 
3 
4  Neither Agree or Disagree
5 
6 
7 Strongly Agree 

I would feel weird because I would not know what to do.
1 Strongly Disagree 
2 
3 
4  Neither Agree or Disagree
5 
6 
7 Strongly Agree 

Your Score:
20: Not suffering from nomophobia. Quality time away from your phone is not a problem for you. 
21-60: Some nomophobia. You may feel a little anxious when away from your smartphone, but you’re tough, and your smartphone can cope too. 
61-100: nomophobia. Time to step away from your smartphone.
101-120:  The nomophobia is strong with you. You may need to get professional help as you’re probably severely addicted to your smartphone.

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