What is it
Do you have anxiety when you don’t have a working cell phone with you? You are suffering from Nomophobia, the fear of not having access to a working cell phone.
What are the symptoms
Psychology Today reported way back in 2013 that 40% of adults suffer from Nomophobia and in 2017 Common Sense Media found that 50% of teens felt addicted to their phones.
What to do about it
The first step of finding help is always to admit that something is wrong. Are you constantly ignoring your children to scan through Facebook? Does your phone ping constantly, interrupting your focus and real life around you?
In Common Sense Media’s, 5 Ways to Save Yourself from Device Addiction, they give a great start on dealing with Smartphone Addiction:
Keep a running list of “Things to google later.”
- Decide what’s critical to know immediately (allergic reactions, for example) and what’s just good to know (where Legos were invented). Tell your kids to keep you accountable.
Tame your device.
- If you can’t turn it off completely, just keep it quiet. In the iPhone’s Settings section, you can turn off notifications, enable Do Not Disturb, and silence alerts in Sounds. In Phone Settings, you can set up automatic text replies. If you only need to be on alert for an email from the boss, in iOS you can create a VIP setting that notifies you of important emails. Android apps such as My VIP Calls only let through calls from specific people (such as your kid’s teacher, who may call when you’re in a meeting).
That goes for vibrate mode too.
- That feeling you get when you think you felt your phone vibrate? And you pick it up and there’s no message but you decide to check Facebook since you’re already looking at your phone? It’s called “phantom vibration mode,” and one theory is it afflicts people who rely on their phones to regulate their emotional states.
Get yourself some parental controls.
- “Mindful parenting” is the latest buzz term, but why stop there? Studies show that smartphones and devices distract us even when we’re not using them. That’s a problem that calls for some serious soul-searching. To calm that “always-on” feeling, consider a meditation app such as Headspace, which applies Zen principles to daily life.
I further recommend the following:
- Start early talking to your child about limiting screen time and finding balance. Playing a computer game once and while is fine, but children should also be playing outside, doing puzzles, playing card games, and other physically engaging fun.
- Not all screen time is the same, make the best use of screen time. In general, creating things with a device (making software at code.org, making a stop motion movie, etc) are much healthier times for children than consuming (like watching youtube videos, searching images, etc).
- Be aware of relying on the device as a babysitter. It may help you get your housework done, but it also may be setting up your child for device addiction. To minimize this effect, have educational or creative options available on the device. Try having some of the following available:
- Create a written Family Media Agreement. This will help you set guidelines for your child and make it a family discussion.
Please see me or contact me if you have questions or want some help.
Mike Brzezowski, Technology Integrator/Coordinator