That Moment When You Realize You're Without Your Cell Phone

Aug 31, 2015

Have you ever panicked upon realizing that you've forgotten your cell phone at home? You're not alone, and you may be feeling a twinge of nomophobia. 

That's the term that Iowa State University researchers are using to describe the anxiety that comes along with being away from your smartphone. Caglar Yildirim is a Ph.D. student at Iowa State University and says sometimes its best to set your phone aside when you're at home. 

"It seems like a really silly idea," Yildirim says. "But this is a real thing. We have become more and more dependent upon our smartphones, and as we've become more attached to them, we are finding some people can have extreme moments of anxiety when they go without them." 

During this River to River interview, host Ben Kieffer talks with Yildirim and Juan Pablo Hourcade, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Iowa. 

Are you a nomophobe? Take the questionnaire:

Study participants were asked to respond to the following statements on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). Total scores were calculated by adding the responses to each item. The higher scores corresponded to greater nomophobia severity.   

  1. I would feel uncomfortable without constant access to information through my smartphone.
  2. I would be annoyed if I could not look information up on my smartphone when I wanted to do so.
  3. Being unable to get the news (e.g., happenings, weather, etc.) on my smartphone would make me nervous.
  4. I would be annoyed if I could not use my smartphone and/or its capabilities when I wanted to do so.
  5. Running out of battery in my smartphone would scare me.
  6. If I were to run out of credits or hit my monthly data limit, I would panic.
  7. If I did not have a data signal or could not connect to Wi-Fi, then I would constantly check to see if I had a signal or could find a Wi-Fi network.
  8. If I could not use my smartphone, I would be afraid of getting stranded somewhere.
  9. If I could not check my smartphone for a while, I would feel a desire to check it.    

If I did not have my smartphone with me:

  1. I would feel anxious because I could not instantly communicate with my family and/or friends.
  2. I would be worried because my family and/or friends could not reach me.
  3. I would feel nervous because I would not be able to receive text messages and calls.
  4. I would be anxious because I could not keep in touch with my family and/or friends.
  5. I would be nervous because I could not know if someone had tried to get a hold of me.
  6. I would feel anxious because my constant connection to my family and friends would be broken.
  7. I would be nervous because I would be disconnected from my online identity.
  8. I would be uncomfortable because I could not stay up-to-date with social media and online networks.
  9. I would feel awkward because I could not check my notifications for updates from my connections and online networks.
  10. I would feel anxious because I could not check my email messages.
  11. I would feel weird because I would not know what to do.