Nomophobia - Kicking the 21st Century Narcotic

Nomophobia - Kicking the 21st Century Narcotic

17th September 2014 // By April Davis // Technology

Have you ever thought about how much time you spend on your phone in a day?

You only check it every now and again right? Surely checking your phone wouldn't take up too much of your day? Well, wait for it. It does. The average owner of a smart phone spends anywhere between 1-3 hours a day checking their phone, this equates to checking for emails, tweets, texts, facebook or app notifications anywhere from 50- 150 times a day.

Okay, wow. That was definitely unexpected. Now, if you read our article on the weird and wacky phobias out there you'll be familiar with nomophobia or no-mobile-phone- phobia (check it out). But, in all seriousness 50% of us suffer from this serious disorder whereby we must have our phones on us 24/7. It's actually not a joke and has been referred to as the number 1 narcotic of the 21st century.

Dr. David Greenfield, an Assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut believes phone addictions work the same as any other dependency because it causes a rise in dopamine levels.

“Every time you get a notification from your phone, there’s a little elevation in dopamine that says you might have something that’s compelling, whether that’s a text message from someone you like, an email, or anything,” Greenfield said. “The thing is you don’t know what it’s going to be or when you’re going to get it, and that’s what compels the brain to keep checking. It’s like the world’s smallest slot machine.”

Does this horrifying new discovery mean that we're doomed to obsessively check our phones 150 times a day for the rest of our lives? Well I sure hope not, but don't worry there are programs, apps and technology being developed to help combat this addiction. In fact, in the time it takes you to read this article, there could be a light bulb switching on in someone’s head with the perfect idea to fight nomophobia.

But for now, these are some of the most interesting solutions we found:

Let's start with the extreme. In Northern California addicted individuals can attend Camp Grounded a summer camp for adults that focus on digital detoxing. Nothing cleans the soul like a good solid dose of the real world.

China takes things to the next level, with boot camps being set up for addicted teens. To combat their addiction they are forced to participate in military style activities. Its estimated there's about 250 of these camps in the country.

Now for the apps. There is an app for pretty much everything now, how ironic is it that there is a digital app designed to help you kick a digital addiction? Well Menthal is designed to track your phone usage and put you on a "digital diet" No more binge texting for you!

Or, alternatively if you are an iPhone user you can download the Pause app. The program encourages you to switch your phone to flight mode so all wifi and 3G networks are disabled. The app then tracks how long you stay in offline mode by making it a game where you can work to beat your high scores.

Finally, the solution you can't help but laugh at, but it just might work.

A user of kick-starter in the U.S is trying to raise funds to develop the NoPhone which is essentially a fake smart phone made of plastic. It takes you back to your childhood days of playing with toy phones. The logic behind it is that it feels like you are holding a real phone that makes going cold turkey a lot easier because psychologically it would feel like you have your phone even if you don't.

So there you have it, nomophobia doesn’t have to take over your life. You can fight it!

Illustration: Hannah Greethead