Fear of being away from your phone could be linked to obsessive compulsion, study suggests

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Researchers say that many consumers experience higher levels of stress when away from their phones

For many consumers, having their phone nearby has become a normal part of their daily routines. However, a new study is exploring the fear that arises when consumers are away from their phones for an extended period of time. 

According to researchers from Ohio State University, it’s not uncommon for consumers to experience fear or stress when they’re away from their phones, and such feelings could be linked to obsessive compulsion. 

“It is that fear, that panicky feeling, of ‘oh, no, I left my phone at home,’” said researcher Ana-Paula Correia. 

Understanding the fear

The researchers surveyed nearly 500 young adults for this study, gauging their overall anxiety and stress levels, and also measuring how much time they spend on their phones. 

The study revealed that nomophobia, a term coined by Correia that refers to the fear of being away from one’s smartphone, was higher for consumers who generally spent more time using their phones. 

Similarly, the researchers learned that overall stress levels and symptoms related to obsessive-compulsion heightened the fear associated with being away from a phone. In terms of behaviors, this translated to the participants double or triple checking that they’ve done certain things. When it came to their phones, more compulsive participants tended to verify a WiFi connection or check to see if they missed any messages or calls. 

Finding a healthy balance

With more and more consumers experiencing addiction related to technology, these findings serve as an important reminder of the stress and anxiety that crop up when consumers spend a lot of time on their phones. However, the researchers also stressed that not all time spent on smartphones is linked to an addiction or to symptoms of anxiety or general fear. 

“This concept is about more than just a phone,” said Correia. “People use it for other tasks, including social media, connecting, knowing what’s going on with their social media influencers. So being away from the phone or the phone having a low battery can sort of sever that connection and leave some people with feelings of agitation.” 

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