Mobile phone use

PICTURE: Robin Worrall/Unsplash

First there was 'fear of missing out', better known by its acronym, FOMO. Now comes nomophobia, the fear of being without your phone. New Australian research shows that almost 100 per cent of phone users have some level of fear of being without their phone. The finding came in a survey of 2,838 Australians examining their psychological attachment to their phones and usage habits. Conducted by researchers at BehaviourWorks Australia, part of the Monash Sustainable Development Institute, it found 43.3 per cent of all participents spent upwards of three hours a day on their phone and the more they used their phone, the higher their level of nomophobia. Young people aged 18 to 25 had the highest level of nomophobia and males were almost twice as likely to engage in dangerous use - using the phone while driving, cycling or walking - than females. Users with nomophobia were 11.7 times more likely to have a problematic phone dependency, 10.3 times more likely to use their phone in a prohibited space, like a library, classroom or cinema and 14 times more likely to engage in dangerous use. Fareed Kaviani, the lead researcher of the study - the findings from which were published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, said the fear of being without a mobile phone "may be a rational response when we have come to rely on them for staying in contact with friends and family, using the digital wallet, scanning QR codes for entry into venues, or to read shopping lists and access information". But he added that mobile phone use can become problematic "when the digital takes precedence, to the detriment of the physical". "Habits are involuntary, and mindless engagement can continue in physical environments where use is prohibited, like the cinema or library, or even become dangerous, such as using a phone while driving or crossing the road."