Here's How to Tell If You're Addicted to Your Cell Phone

It's time to assess your level of "nomophobia."

Photo by Getty Images/DragonImages

People often associate phobias with things we purposely choose to avoid, such as spiders, germs, or anxiety-inducing situations. But a phobia can also refer to the fear of being without something—and there's a new modern-day one that likely hits close to home. It's called "nomophobia," and it's the fear of being without our (gasp!) mobile phones. 

Chances are we all know a nomophobe (or 10), considering 90 of the 92 percent of U.S. adults who own a cell phone say it's constantly with them, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center. Forty-five percent of cell phone users say they rarely turn them off, and 89 percent report using their phones during the most recent social gathering they attended. That makes for a lot of screen time, and it's not without consequence

If you're beginning to wonder if you yourself are a nomophobe, read on—researchers at Iowa State University recently conducted a study to identify and describe nomophobia's dimensions. In the first phase, the researchers conducted interviews with nine undergraduate students, and then used their responses to identify four key dimensions: not being able to communicate, losing connectedness, not being able to access information, and giving up convenience. The researchers then developed a 20-item questionnaire, which was taken by 301 undergraduate students. 

To assess your own level of nomophobia, respond to the following statements on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). Tally your score as you go, then refer to the chart below the questionnaire.

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. 
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.

Sum up your responses to each item (higher scores indicate more severe levels of nomophobia). Refer to the following to determine your nomophobia level, or NMP-Q Score:

20 or less: Absent
21 to less than 60: Mild
60 to less than 100: Moderate
100 to 140: Severe

Scored a moderate or severe? Don't panic. Here are three ways to shake your cell phone addiction