How To Tell If You’re Too Attached To Your Phone

Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
It's no secret that we love our smartphones — some might even say we're "addicted" to them. But, the degree to which we can truly be addicted to technology is still up for debate. Now, research is delving into our feelings of separation anxiety when we're stuck without a phone, reports Science of Us. In the paper, published online in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, researchers set out to observe our nomophobia. (It's a play on "no-mobile-phone" phobia. Groan away.) To do so, the researchers interviewed and surveyed 301 undergraduate students about their phone usage and how they'd feel if (gasp) they didn't have their phones with them.  Participants' responses revealed four distinct dimensions of our phone obsession: We're freaked out about not being able to communicate, giving up convenience, not being able to access information, and losing our feeling of connectedness. And, the responses were correlated between those dimensions, so if a participant rated highly on one, he or she was more likely to rate highly on the others. This indicates that there's probably a real situational phobia here, and that the questionnaire is actually measuring the concepts it's supposed to. The study authors hope their new questionnaire will be used in other research to continue looking into our phone dependence. So, if you want to know how your phone anxiety compares, check out the researchers' questionnaire, below. If you agree with any of these particularly strongly, that might suggest you're a little too attached to your digital companion. (Remember, though: It's too early to actually "diagnose" this as a condition.) So, how do you feel about these statements?
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 ...
10. I would feel anxious because I could not instantly communicate with my family and/or friends.
11. I would be worried because my family and/or friends could not reach me.
12. I would feel nervous because I would not be able to receive text messages and calls.
13. I would be anxious because I could not keep in touch with my family and/or friends.
14. I would be nervous because I could not know if someone had tried to get a hold of me.
15. I would feel anxious because my constant connection to my family and friends would be broken.
16. I would be nervous because I would be disconnected from my online identity.
17. I would be uncomfortable because I could not stay up-to-date with social media and online networks.
18. I would feel awkward because I could not check my notifications for updates from my connections and online networks.
19. I would feel anxious because I could not check my email messages.
20. I would feel weird because I would not know what to do.

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