Researchers in Hong Kong found out that teenagers and adults are suffering from phone-separation anxiety. Initially, they consider their smartphones as the most important thing in their lives. Then, they start using it to de-stress or get excited about life.

As phone addiction kicks in, they find themselves spending more time on the gadget. These people want to cut down on their usage but find it difficult. Soon, their use of the electronic gadget compromises their relationships, work and even provokes inner conflict.

Who are considered nomophobic?

According to the researchers, smartphone users who store and share personal memories on social media are most likely to be affected. Whenever they get separated from their mobile phones, these people complain of physical pain such as Neck Pain. They are also affected psychologically and emotionally as they feel alone without their gadgets.

Dr. Kim Ki Joon said that some people become so attached to their smartphone that they consider it as their extended selves. Without the electronic device, they experience increased heart rate and high blood pressure. The problematic use of smartphone has already been discussed by Jon Elhai and his team several months ago. In their article published by Research Gate, they correlate it with poor mental health outcomes.

They looked into 308 subjects from the Amazon’s Mechanical Turk labor market and found out that the frequency of use is associated with feelings of depression.

Is there hope for people suffering from phone-separation anxiety?

Elhai and his team concluded that the frequent use of smartphones is a tell-tale sign of the individual’s need for touch and fear of missing out, or FOMO.

Dealing appropriately with problematic smartphone use can address feelings of depression and anxiety.

Mark Griffiths, a psychologist and the director of the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University, believes it is not the smartphone that is giving people the separation anxiety. It is the content of the gadget that gives them the fear of missing out.

He added that because people have developed an emotional dependency on the phone, they tend to feel anxious if they feel they do not know what is happening on social media like Snapchat or Instagram.

However, Griffiths said that teenagers, or even “screenagers,” whose lives are so ingrained on the device, still have hope to overcome the separation anxiety. In fact, they tend to adapt very quickly if they go on vacations without the internet. He suggests deliberately leaving the phone at home or turning it off once in a while to avoid “nomophobia.”