14 to 16 years old women suffer more nomophobia

Researchers from Universidad Internacional de La Rioja (UNIR) and University of Deusto lead the first instrumental work in spanish about nomophobia, the irrational fear of being out of mobile phone contact. Results revealed a higher prevalence in women and youths aged 14 to 16 years.


September 22th. Eva Ferreras.–  Nowadays we have an increasent social fear, impulsed by cultural contents as Black Mirror, about who a bad use of technologies can make it control every part of our lifes. This fiction of a future society shows one of the aspects that more concern people: nomophobia (no mobile phone phobia),  the stress and nervousness when access to a mobile phone or computers is not possible.

This disorder produces different symptons and behaviors such a obsession for keeping the battery charged and the anxiety at the though of being unable to use the phone due to lack of network or flattened battery. This people tends to avoid all these situations, which make very difficultd the develop of a normal daily life.

Statistics show youths aged 14 to 16 years are the more vulnerable sector, as indicate Joaquin Manuel Gonzalez-Cabrera, head of the Cyberbullying-OUT of Universidad Internacional de La Rioja (UNIR) research group and first author of the investigation. The study published in Actas Españolas de Psiquiatría is the first tool in our country that counts with appropriate indicators of reliability and validity for this problem.

Thus a number of studies have been developed about Internet abuse, nomophobia is a specific anxiety disorder related to the need to communicate through the mobile phone and to losing control of the social network, so it is required a different approach from the need of being in control about the own autonomy and connectivity.

In order to analyze problematic use patterns related to nomophobia, researchers have adapted and validated a questionnaire which evaluate 4 dimensions of nomophobia and 20 items, through which its have been stablished profiles of occassional user, user at risk and problematic user. “Almost 25% can be considerated as user at risk, so further research will be necessary to evaluate the temporal impact in our teenagers”. The investigator also underline a higher prevalence in women and youths aged 14 to 16 years.

nomophobia, the irrational fear of being out of mobile phone contact./ CC0 Creative Commons
nomophobia, the irrational fear of being out of mobile phone contact./ CC0 Creative Commons

Since it has not been until very recently that a tool for assesing nomophobia has been validated, scarce prevalence data have been published on nomophobia, which have added more dificulty to the researchers work.  Despite the emergence of this phobia, it was not until very recently that a specific tool for assesing nomophobia was developed and validated, and this disorder it can’t be found in diagnosis manuals yet. Researchers say nomophobia can be placed in specific phobias, which, acording to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V) are the irrational and pathologic fear to a situation or an object. We can asume this option as long you can’t explain the symthoms with another disorder like social anxiety.

Universidad Internacional de La Rioja (UNIR) research time is also developing and validating tools for another problem like FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), or the Internet Gaming Disorder in MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) games like League of Legends.

Smartphone use is not negative, but the UNIR experts are convinced that is not either harmless, what requires an integral education of people able to prepare them to be digital citizens. Being able to benefic of the infinite posibilities that technologies offer us and being capable of dealing with the risks must be a prioritary both social and educational aim if we don’t want Black Mirror to get in our lifes.



Reference: González-Cabrera, J., León-Mejía, A., Pérez-Sancho, C., Calvete, E. (2017). Adaptación al español del cuestionario Nomophobia Questionnaire (NMP-Q) en una muestra de adolescentes. Actas Españolas de Psiquiatría, 45(4), 137-44. Recuperado de http://www.actaspsiquiatria.es/repositorio/19/108/ESP/19-108-ESP-137-44-401770.pdf