THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Can you imagine a day without a mobile phone or see your friend phubbing while you are having a serious conversation? Is your younger brother focused solely on playing games on the phone? Nomophobia (the irrational fear of being without your mobile phone) is turning out to be a serious issue among youths. According to psychologists, around 70 per cent of the children suffer from mobile addiction. "Among ten children, you can find seven of them addicted to mobiles. This is mostly common among children aged 13 to 18 years. The smart phone addiction results in personality disorders, there are severe cases of violence and suicide attempts too," said Prakash Chandra, psychologist.
Student counsellors opine that it has a severe impact on cognitive, mental, emotional and even physical development and wellbeing of children. "Among the cases, I have attended on nomophobia, one of the most disturbing was a girl studying in class IX who tried to cut her vein. While having a counselling session with the thirteen-year-old she said that she felt lonely and depressed when her parents took away her phone," said Rekha S, student counsellor, Government Vocational Higher Secondary School, Pettah.
"People who are depressed or lonely have low levels of dopamine production. However, when they browse the phone, it makes them happy and excited. It works in the same principle as gambling, said Cyril Mathew, clinical psychologist.
According to students in the age group of 13to 18, it is a necessity rather than a luxury. "Nowadays, we need mobile phones to keep updated," said Jerin Cyril, a class XI student of St Josephs Higher Secondary School, Palayam.
How to keep control
While nomophobia results in anxiety, depression, nausea, breathing problems, trembling and panic attacks, psychologists suggest a few tips to control the urge to always use the mobile phone. "Creating a no-phone space at home would help children get along with their parents and spent quality time with family while monitoring children's activity. Children should get proper sleep and phones can be kept away while they sleep," said Prakash Chandra. Even though there are no surveys conducted in Kerala regarding the rates of nomophobia among children, psychologists and counsellors say there are sufficient case studies to prove it is rising.