Teens and “Nomophobia”: Cell Phone Separation Anxiety

This blog post is archived and is no longer being updated. For the latest content, please visit the main Drugs & Health Blog page.
Image
Nora Volkow and Charles O'Keefe present an award in an envelope to Kashfia Nehrin Rahman.

Kashfia Nehrin Rahman, center, receives a third-place Addiction Science Award from NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow, left, and Friends of NIDA's Charles O'Keefe.

Do you get stressed when you can’t check your texts? Maybe distracted from something you’re supposed to be doing, just because your phone isn’t handy? One teen set out to discover how anxious teens become when they’re separated from their cell phones, and whether the anxiety affects their attention spans.

Kashfia Nehrin Rahman, a high school science student from South Dakota, did a study and found that teens are vulnerable to stress and anxiety when they’re separated from their smartphones. This phenomenon is called “nomophobia,” an abbreviation of “no-more-phone phobia.”

Constant companions

For her study, Kashfia surveyed 54 teens about their cell phone use and tested their stress levels. The survey found that 92 percent of the teens kept their phones on all the time, and 73 percent said they became anxious when their phones had no charge. The teens checked their phones about once every 23 minutes, and 37 percent said they used their phones while driving.

What’s the problem with nomophobia?

Kashfia’s findings may sound familiar to anyone who’s forgotten his or her phone at home all day. Without their phones, the teens had higher blood pressure and heart rates, leading Kashfia to conclude that not having a smartphone around is stressful.

As another part of the study, she had the teens perform several tasks, including a driving-simulator computer game, to test skills such as memory, attention, response time, and impulsivity. The teens’ skills were worse when they were separated from their phones. Kashfia concluded that phone dependency leads to more stress and decreased attention on a task.

Award-winning research

Kashfia’s study won third place and $1,000 in NIDA’s Addiction Science Award competition in May. Read more about the Addiction Science Awards and the other winners’ projects at NIDA’s website!

Congratulations to Kashfia, and to all the other award winners and competitors!

Find Help Near You

Use the SAMHSA Treatment Locator to find substance use or other mental health services in your area. If you are in an emergency situation, this toll-free, 24-hour hotline can help you get through this difficult time: call 1-800-273-TALK, or visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We also have step by step guides on what to do to help yourself, a friend or a family member.

Related Articles

Say What? “Relapse”
July 2018

A person who's trying to stop using drugs can sometimes start using them again. Fortunately, treatment can help to lower...