‘Nomophobia on the rise in Oman, affects adolescents and adults’

September 18, 2017

Anxiety or depression that arises due to the fear of being separated from one’s smartphone is on the rise in Oman, said an expert. 

Called nomophobia, the anxiety is also responsible for causing relationship problems and sleep disorders. Though it is more common among adolescents, adults too are affected by it said Dr Nishat Shams, psychotherapist, Ministry of Health.

Dr Nishat said this anxiety arises because people get addicted to social media and instant communication, which is accessible through phones. A person suffering from nomophobia who did not wish to be named said, “I suffered from a strange sort of anxiety that someone will access my phone because there are private mails and pictures in it. I would check my emails and chats first thing in the morning, because of which I would either skip or have breakfast late. Finally, I had to force myself to stay away from phone.”

Dr Nishat said, “Social media addiction affects the brain just like cocaine and heroin. A smartphone though small enough to fit in your pocket wields the kind of power that nothing else allows you to. It can instantly help you communicate with virtually anyone on earth.”

Addiction to such a device also causes physical and psychological problems, muscle pain and ocular afflictions resulting from Computer Vision Syndrome. This results in fatigue, dryness of the eyes, blurry vision, irritation, or ocular redness.

Saket Kumar said his daughter was constantly worried for her phone. “I never doubted her but she was always in fear that her privacy will be invaded. It took me several weeks to get it out of her mind.”

An office-goer Salim recalls how he felt when he lost his phone. “It was a strange feeling. I was not worried for my expensive phone but for the messages that I would miss. After some time I made myself realise that it was not as important.”

Many also suffer from loss of sleep, loss of focus and the ability to do deep meaningful work. One of the best remedies is to turn off the data. “When you turn these services off, you’ll still be able to make calls and send simple text messages. You just won’t be able to refresh your email inbox, or check Instagram or Snapchat, or send or receive pictures via text messaging,” Dr Nishat said.