Nomophobia disorder stands for ‘no + mobile + phone + phobia’. This is an irrational fear of separation from one’s mobile phone, or a concern if one is unable to use the mobile phone for any reason such as low battery or no signal etc.
Problems caused by Nomophobia
Excessive internet use leads to various problems that include – virtual relationships, online compulsions arising from temptations to buy things that are not necessary, information overload, and cybersex addiction.
Effects of Nomophobia
The addiction has a highly negative impact on one’s life. The effects include – increased loneliness, depression, performance anxiety in school and at home, decreased attention to things, and diminished creative & thinking ability etc.
Symptoms of Nomophobia
The most glaring symptoms of nomophobia include: Working late to complete school or related tasks; isolating oneself from family and friends; concealing access to smartphone by introducing security access passwords; resorting to recurrent checking of smartphone; making excuses to family about online usage time. Teens with Nomophobia may also get up at night to check alerts, or may have a feeling of disaster, anxiety or panic when misplacing the mobile, or when the operating system crashes, or the battery runs low.
A teen may experience some withdrawal symptoms when he / she tries to cut down cell phone usage. These withdrawal symptoms may include: Anger, short temper, inability to concentrate or focus, loss of sleep or sleep-related issues, and a strong urge to access the mobile or some other device.
The main reason for the existence of nomophobia is the availability of advanced features and facilities on mobile phones, which has reduced dependency on computers and in many instances has reduced social/people dependency. Social networking is possible via mobile devices and similarly, other important daily functions such as gaming, banking and shopping are possible via mobile devices. Everyday life has become simpler, quicker and more convenient due to mobile devices and therefore, not being able to access our mobile device becomes a very difficult and sometimes impossible thought.
Moreover, people with low self-esteem and / or poor social skills may resort to mobile devices to keep themselves engaged. Unlike extroverts who are able to socialize easily, introverts rely on their mobile devices to stay connected in some way with the outside world.
Treatment for Nomophobia
Various methods of treatment for nomophobia include:
Self-Treatment: Nomophobia addiction is like a gambling, or shopping addiction. It is compulsive behavior similar to substance addiction. The addict is encouraged to make rules for restrictive use of his/her smartphone, or get an app to help monitor and cut down internet usage. In self-treatment, it is suggested and encouraged that one follow mind relaxation techniques to help control the urge to use the phone and access the internet.
Individual Therapy: This method encompasses one-to-one individual therapy where the therapist addresses the problems or mental disorders resulting from ongoing addicted use of mobile devices and internet.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT): This therapy considers all of the undesirable negative thoughts, feelings and behaviors that may arise and helps to change them with more positive behaviors thought patterns using cognitive tools. The method is very effective in treating the mobile phone & internet addiction.
Motivational interviewing: This method identifies the gaps between the current and desired status of the affected teen, and assists the teenager to adopt positive behaviors to motivate self-control and healthy behavior, actions and thought patterns.
Pharmacology: There are no approved medicines to treat nomophobia at this stage, but sometimes medication may be combined with psychotherapy, such as antidepressants or psycho-stimulants that can help treat addictive patterns.
Treatment Groups: Internet and Tech Addiction Anonymous (ITAA) helps to treat technology addiction through its 12-step program. Members are encouraged to share experiences and support each other. For example, the Center for Digital Technology Sustainability has an 8-12 week program and helps to plan one’s future in close associations with peers and counselors.
Treatment at Hillcrest
Hillcrest Adolescent Treatment Center (Hillcrest) is a tranquil, rehabilitation oasis expertly designed to treat adolescents struggling with teen addiction disorders. The magnificent residential facility is based in the tropical foothills of Agoura Hills, California. Rustic, yet elegant, it is uniquely situated and designed to provide and nurture healing on all levels, while focusing on the key principles of mind-body health.
With its stellar and dedicated professional staff, Hillcrest provides highly effective therapeutic individualized treatment programs in a multifaceted healing environment, aiming to ensure that the recovery is complete, wholesome, deep rooted and long lasting. At Hillcrest, you and your loved one will be supported every step of the way on the road to recovery.