An Australia-first study has found that 99.2 percent of Aussies have “nomophobia” or the fear of being without their phone.
Lead researcher of the study, Ph.D. candidate Fareed Kaviani, said on Jan. 3 that while fear of being without one’s mobile phone was rational given we now rely on them for staying in contact with friends and family, COVIDSafe QR codes, or to pay for shopping and gain access information, they should be used with caution.
“Use becomes problematic when the digital takes precedence, to the detriment of the physical,” Kaviani said.
“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,” he said.
The study revealed that those aged between 18 to 25 had the highest level of nomophobia and males were almost twice as likely to engage in prohibited and dangerous use of a mobile phone.
It also found that 43.3 percent of the study’s participants spent three hours or more a day on their phone. The more time spent on the phone, the more it increased their level of nomophobia and the greater their risk of problematic dependent, prohibited or dangerous usage.
“If your smartphone use is having a deleterious impact on the physical and/or psychological health of yourself or those around you, then that is a problem,” Kaviani said.
In Australia, 84 percent of the population have mobile phone internet access, and there are more mobile phone subscriptions than people—109 phones per 100 people.
For more than one in ten, the study found that their phobia is severe and they were 11.7 times more likely to use their phone in a prohibited space such as a library, classroom, or cinema.
They were also 14 times more likely to engage in the illegal use of their phones, such as using a phone while driving or crossing the road.
An earlier study from 2019 found that phones that strangers reduced smiles when they had their phones in a waiting room. They not only smiled less to one another but also showed fewer genuine smiles. The study cited this as evidence of phones altering the fabric of social life.