A new phobia has been added to the family. Nomophobia has just been named by researchers at Iowa State University. It is the feeling of anxiety or stress one gets when one forgets their mobile phone. Also shows to what degree we rely on our phones to complete basic tasks. Everything from adding up to telling you where you are. The results mean that we are increasing our reliability, on a tiny piece of equipment.
Researchers say dependency has important psychological consequences for humans. This is partly because we use it as a source of information, and so we are not retaining the information ourselves. In some ways we are becoming more stupid. Studying nomophobia is not that easy, and a 20-question survey has been produced and they ask questions such as “what purpose do you use your smart phone?”, “How would you feel if you left your smart phone at home and had to spend your day without it?”
Results show many younger people feel uncomfortable about not being able to access a smartphone. Their anxiety rises if they run out of credit. They feel panic if they can’t check their emails or receive text messages. And it’s the end of the world if they break or lose it.
Recently on BBC radio two, I heard a presenter talking about using their smartphone to find their way around. But they had lost GPS and they could not get a connection, and as they did not have a map with them and it was dark, they became totally lost. They realised at this point they were depending far too heavily on the device. Had it been a good evening, and they knew something about astronomy, they could have gone home, using the stars as a guide. How many skills will we lose as technology develops?
I hear the same moans, from university professors that their students are finding it more and more difficult to find information. On walking into a library they have got no way of finding the books they need. When I was at school, the first thing you did was learn how to look up indexes. The rise in Internet searches means we expect accurate information to be there at our fingertips. But even when we do rely on websites such as Wikipedia, how do we know how accurate they are?