Mobile Addiction: It's an Epidemic

April 19, 2017

Nomophobia is the new epidemic.

Do you know someone who is addicted to their phone? They check it constantly, take it everywhere with them, and it’s the first thing they look at when they wake up and the last thing they check before going to bed. Perhaps this could be you?

Being addicted to your mobile phone actually has a name, “nomophobia,” which stands for no-mobile-phone phobia. Symptoms may include feelings of anxiety or panic when separated from your mobile phone, difficulty concentrating on conversations or work tasks, and constantly checking your phone for notifications, emails, and updates.

Some people actually think they hear their phone ringing when it’s not. Those who experience these “phantom vibrations” suffer from a condition known as cellphone vibration syndrome.

Why Do People Become Addicted?

The majority of us enjoy checking our mobile phone, catching up on social media, and sending texts and emails. It helps us stay connected to our friends and family and can be a handy – if not an essential – way to conduct business away from the office.

However, it can turn into addiction. Every time we check our phone we experience a release of dopamine. According to Psychology Today, “Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Dopamine also helps regulate movement and emotional responses, and it enables us not only to see rewards, but to take action to move toward them.”

What does this mean? Every time you hear a “ding” on your phone it sends a signal to your brain, urging you to check your phone because you might be rewarded with something pleasurable. A text from your friend, a positive comment on Instagram, anything that makes you feel good. The reaction is similar to that produced by a slot machine: there is always a chance that you will “win,” and the excitement captures your attention.

Negative Side Effects

For people who are truly nomophobic, side effects can include high anxiety, difficulty concentrating, depression, and poor sleep habits, among others. Relationships can suffer if you are regularly checking your phone rather than paying attention to the person you’re with.

Your success in the workplace can also be affected if you are unable to finish tasks, focus on your work, or remain attentive during meetings and conversations with managers or colleagues.

Addiction to your phone can lead to social isolation rather than true connection. If you are looking for meaning, closeness, and satisfaction through social media you will be disappointed. Social media is a way for people to display an ideal version of themselves which may result in a loss of touch with reality.

Nomophobia and Advertising

For advertisers, consumers’ changing relationships with their phones offer opportunities and challenges. Primary among the challenges: the attention span of mobile users is getting shorter and shorter, so it can be difficult to attract and hold attention. With consumers glued to their phone screen, it can be difficult to attract their attention with traditional media like print and television ads and transit posters.

On the positive side, those who are addicted will instantly check their phones whenever they receive a notification, so your ad on mobile stands a good chance of being seen by nomophobes. Mobile advertisers have access to unprecedented amounts of user data and analytical tools, enabling them to target and engage customers on a more personal level than ever. And the cost-per-impression is fantastically low compared to traditional ad media.

If you think you are a nomophobe, you can take steps towards breaking the addiction. Declare “tech breaks” during which you keep your phone on silent and remain focused on your work. Counterintuitively, you can also take advantage of your tech addiction to use an app like Menthal that will track the amount of time you spend on your phone. Once you know how badly you’re hooked, you can set goals to cut back to a level that you feel is reasonable.

If you are a business owner and would like to stay ahead of your competition, excelerate Digital can help. We will work with you to create a mobile marketing strategy that helps your business benefit from this growing mobile addiction. Contact us to learn more.