Nomophobia (Phone Addiction): Definition, Signs And Consequences

In the age of technology, mobile phone addiction is something that mainly affects adolescents.
XXI century: Times go by, our habits and our priorities change, and even our way of relating to each other. Since the arrival of mobile phones, we have not made being able to interact with other people dependent on having to be in the same place: Carrying our phone in our pocket has silently inoculated us with the idea that we can contact whoever we want at any time, place and situation. But what happens when we leave home without it?  Let's talk about the phenomenon of Nomophobia.

What is nomophobia?

Let's imagine: Visualize the image of someone leaving the house, and when they are on their way they discover that they have forgotten their smartphone at home. Suddenly, their face changes and they seem to be having something similar to a panic attack just as they realize they will have to spend the next hours without it. Does it sound familiar? We are probably facing a case of nomophobia, a type of disorder that is increasingly common and affects more than half the population.

When we talk about nomophobia (formed by no-mobile-phone-phobia), we talk about a completely irrational fear of being without our mobile phone for some time. The person who suffers it, upon the discovery of having forgotten it (or after having no battery or signal), feels how suddenly a suffocating sensation of anxiety invades them.

They feel isolated and completely overwhelmed by the idea of missing out on many things that happen in real time, and the discomfort does not go away until they have the possibility of connecting again.

As it can be noticed, the reaction is like the one of an addict, in this case, a phone addict. And when the levels of this fear condition the functioning of a normal life, we could be talking about a disorder that needs to be treated.

Signs of nomophobia

After the previous description, we probably have in mind someone we know that we have seen acting in an exacerbated way because of not having their mobile phone. To solve our doubts about whether we could be in front of a case of nomophobia, we can check if these symptoms are present when they don't have their phone:

  • Increasing heart rate
  •  Anxiety
  • Digestive discomfort
  • A headache
  • Obsessive ideas

Apart from these signs, we should also observe other usual behaviors that could reaffirm this addiction, for example:

  • Compulsive message checking
  • Free time = time spent with the phone
  • Having your phone with you wherever you go. 

As well as some personality traits that, together with the previous symptoms, could confirm that it is a case of nomophobia:

  • Scarce social skills.
  • Low self-esteem and self-confidence.

And an important piece of information for parents: The vital stage in which most incidence of nomophobia disorder occurs is adolescence, where the reaffirmation of the personality joins the love for social networks and the incorporation of the use of mobile phone as a habit.


As previously mentioned, when the levels of phone addiction are high, nomophobia can end up affecting the normal functioning of the daily life of the person who suffers it.

It no longer only translates into the whole set of "side effects" that take place when that person doesn't have their Smartphone for one reason or another. No, the problem is palpable in the very development of their day to day life, when the underlying problem is manifested:

Nearly all satisfaction that person can feel is obtained through their mobile phone, showing their factual situation of isolation and disconnection from the most palpable reality.

If it weren't enough, there are other alterations:

  • They stop participating in activities they used to do
  • They lose social skills when interacting face-to-face
  • The quality of their level of communication notably gets worse
  • Their emotions fluctuate at the same speed as things change in the social networks they use
  • They become more and more isolated
  • Their vision of reality becomes more restricted and distorted

To sum up, far from only being a disproportionate reaction when leaving the house without the phone, we could say that nomophobia is just the tip of the iceberg of a problem more significant than those apparent to the naked eye.

Phone addiction can end up affecting their day to day life
Phone addiction can end up affecting your day to day life

My child has nomophobia. What can I do? 

This is something that concerns parents that, after investigating the problems involved in this disorder, are aware of the need to do something about it to help their children.

Although in this article we do not intend to dictate through these indications the existence of a personality disorder (only by identifying these symptoms in the behavior of our children) it can be useful to become aware of the need to ask for the opinion and possible help of a psychologist specialized in clinical psychology to address a possible case of nomophobia.


As in many other aspects, in the case of the phone addiction (and its consequent fear of leaving the house without it) being able to act from prevention before it is developed as a pathological behavior is something essential. 

In this sense, some psychologists pronounce on the matter appealing to moderation, the responsible use of new technologies and, in the case of children and adolescents, the necessary supervision on the part of adults for the prevention of nomophobia. Experts consider that educating from childhood in the responsible use of mobile phones is essential to prevent pathologies related to social networks and technologies to influence the well-being and health of children and adolescents. 

But another factor is taken into account:  If parents get their children to build a strong self-esteem they will avoid being less dependent on the acceptance they get from others in the form of likes and followers. Nothing like a good synergy to obtain the best results. Yes, also in education.