Are You In A Codependent Relationship With Your Phone? Science Says The Struggle Is Definitely Real

This will come as a surprise to precisely no one who knows me, but I am in a codependent relationship with my cellphone. It's the first thing I reach for when I wake up and the last thing I put down before I go to sleep. I sing it sweet lullabies, and it loves me unconditionally (I think). And excitingly, I now have empirical evidence that proves beyond a doubt that my phone and I have a special, special bond. Or... something.

Psychologists from Iowa State University have published a twenty-item questionnaire as part of a study intended to gauge cell phone dependency. What inspired the study? The fact that people's increased connection to their phones has given rise to a new kind of separation anxiety called "nomophobia" — that is, the fear of being away from your phone. The term comes from the words "no mobile phone phobia," and is related to feelings of distress or nervousness when you're away from your phone.

In the name of science, I sought out to find out just how nomophobic I am (and just so everyone knows my struggle, my word processor has tried to autocorrect that to homophobic every single time I've written it. Thanks, computer. You're really showing me your support here). Each statement is marked on a scale of one to seven, with one meaning "strongly disagree" and seven meaning "strongly agree."

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Here are the questions (and my answers):

  1. I would feel uncomfortable without constant access to information through my smartphone: 7
  2. I would be annoyed if I could not look information up on my smartphone when I wanted to do so: 6
  3. Being unable to get the news (e.g., happenings, weather, etc.) on my smartphone would make me nervous: 6
  4. I would be annoyed if I could not use my smartphone and/or its capabilities when I wanted to do so: 6
  5. Running out of battery in my smartphone would scare me: 7
  6. If I were to run out of credits or hit my monthly data limit, I would panic: 6
  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: 7 (note: this one is so real)
  8. If I could not use my smartphone, I would be afraid of getting stranded somewhere: 7
  9. If I could not check my smartphone for a while, I would feel a desire to check it: 7
  10. If I did not have my smartphone with me ...I would feel anxious because I could not instantly communicate with my family and/or friends: 7
  11. ...I would be worried because my family and/or friends could not reach me: 7
  12. ...I would feel nervous because I would not be able to receive text messages and calls: 7
  13. ...I would be anxious because I could not keep in touch with my family and/or friends: 7
  14. ...I would be nervous because I could not know if someone had tried to get a hold of me: 7
  15. ...I would feel anxious because my constant connection to my family and friends would be broken: 7
  16. ...I would be nervous because I would be disconnected from my online identity: 4
  17. ...I would be uncomfortable because I could not stay up-to-date with social media and online networks: 5
  18. ...I would feel awkward because I could not check my notifications for updates from my connections and online networks: 4
  19. ...I would feel anxious because I could not check my email messages: 6
  20. ...I would feel weird because I would not know what to do: 4

It's scary how many of those I answered "strongly agree" to, but then again, I have highly neurotic Jewish parents, so I blame them for some of that. You're supposed to add up your score, and then judge it according to the following scale: NMP-Q scores are interpreted as follows: an NMP-Q score of 20 indicating the absence of nomophobia; an NMP-Q score greater than 20 and less than 60 corresponding to a mild level of nomophobia; an NMP-Q score greater than or equal to 60 and less than 100 corresponding to a moderate level of nomophobia; and an NMP-Q score greater than or equal to 100 corresponding to a severe nomophobia.

My score added up to 124, which is terrifying and puts me squarely in the severe nomophobia category. It's fine, I can honestly quit using my phone whenever I want. I'm not addicted. I'm fine. Just don't take my phone away ever, thanks.

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