Are You Addicted To Your Phone?


By Sophia Kim, Staff Writer

It’s always annoying when you sit down to chat with friends, but they pick up their phone and start to mindlessly tune out of your conversation. “Hold on, I gotta check this message,” some would say, while others would not even bother. The phones are attached to their hands, as the screen lights up their face in an eerie manner, until they snap out of their trance and put their phone on the table, saying, “What were you saying before?”

Smartphone addiction may sound like an exaggeration by your cranky grandparents, but there is a common term coined by psychologists to describe this behavior: nomophobia.

Nomophobia is the fear of getting separated from your phone. Coined by a study in 2010 by the UK Post Office, it is a short-hand for “no-mobile-phone phobia.”

Without even realizing it, you may be hooked on your phone.  If you feel anxious about your phone battery dying, for example, that it is a sign. If you could care less about your phone, would it really matter if it was at 100% or 1%? 

People also hate to miss out on social media or group chats. It’s always disappointing to enter the conversation when it ended five minutes ago. Don’t you feel a little paranoid that you’re missing out on something important or that a heated rant may be active in that one minute you are unable to check on your phone? You may get constantly anxious that you will miss notifications from your friends, and are unable to leave your phone away from you.

But anxiety isn’t the only symptom of obsession. Your bedtime habits reveals enough themself. Studies show that 87% of people use their phones an hour before they sleep, and 69% use them within 5 minutes after they wake up. 

Smart phones have also been proven to cause insomnia. Melatonin is a chemical released in the blood when the body starts to go to sleep. During the day, melatonin levels decrease due to light, explaining why people don’t sleep during the day. However, the excessive light given from the phones can also decrease the amount of melatonin in your blood. In fact, it is found that 52% of students sleep an average of 5-6 hours a day– and some hours can be stolen by the phones themselves.

The average time spent on cell phones a day is 2 hours and 51 minutes. The United States rank as  #3 in the top ten nations with smartphone use, with Brazil and China in the lead.

“Society does not view phone addiction seriously,” says Mr. Mohan, a Wayne Hills history teacher, “It’s sad and it’s a cry for help.” 

And it’s not just the youth that suffer from this problem. Mr. Mohan recalls that when he enters a restaurant, there could be a whole family with screens in front of them, regardless of their age. 

Though nomophobia in our school and in the youth is rising, there is still some hope. Mr. Mohan believes, “Though there is research indicating that there is an addictive quality to [phones], using the word ‘addiction’ allows people to feel helpless.” Perhaps we aren’t necessarily addicted to our phones, but dependent. 

By looking at it this way, our issue does not feel as severe. 

“As educators, we should teach students that your phone is a tool; it’s not something part of your being or your personality,” Mr. Mohan adds. Sometimes our lives are too heavily incorporated with “trying to follow other peoples’ lives online, but [we] end up missing [our] own [lives].”

So what do we do about this?

As students, we should try to raise awareness of this issue and learn a bit more about ourselves. After all, the first key to fixing a problem is being aware of it.