Nomophobia is the Name of the Game (or Things What I Have Done Learned 2)

by sarahtwonames

nomophobia (ˌnəʊməʊˈfəʊbɪə): a state of stress caused by having no access to or being unable to use one’s mobile phoneThe Collins English Dictionary

I used to think this most 21st century of phobias was total balls. Then I watched a friend of mine pinch another friend’s phone, unlock it (it was not passcode protected), and proceed to leave a note saying “you smell like vagina and poo”. The phone did belong to a midwife after all. After said incident, I immediately restored the PIN on my phone.

Whilst this doesn’t directly tie in to the definition of nomophobia, it does exemplify its underlying cause: mobiles are personal. They are so personal to us that if they are taken from us, or altered without our consent, our stress levels go through the gorilla glass roof.  And the personal element is down to the advent of the smartphone. Your average smartphone will have not just all our contacts, but a fair share of lolsworthy photos, videos, to do lists (including the classic “Oh crud it’s Mum’s birthday soon, what do I get her?”) and enough apps to organise our lives and entertain us through ad breaks, train journeys and bowel movements. In short – we now have a personal universe in our pockets.

So it seems rather apt that the Squared course’s module 2 focus was on mobile.  The facts I learnt were staggering, proving that we are all succumbing to the lure of mobile (which is henceforth defined as both smartphones and tablets) and the inevitable self-diagnosed nomophobia. In 2012 78% of us didn’t leave our smartphones at home, more android devices were activated daily than babies born, and 570 years of Angry Birds were played daily*.

Mobile has also exacerbated our natural impatience – 60% of us expect a mobile site to load in 60s, and 40% of us will visit another result if a site isn’t optimised. The implications of these two little gems of knowledge have huge ramifications for digital marketing. Especially since $159b of US retail sales were influenced by mobile in 2012*. If a brand doesn’t know its ice cream sandwiches from its jellybeans, it is shooting itself in the silicon foot.

As Mashable (can’t find the article anywhere) pointed out the money to be had in mobile is why the iPhone 5S has fingerprint scanning. It’s as much to do with security as it is to do with getting in on PayPal’s territory. If Apple had a payment app that used your fingerprint as log on and confirmation of payment, it would soothe all us consumers who still aren’t sure about paying large amounts via mobile. Although figures are showing that we are getting less nervous.

I feel compelled at this juncture to mention all the glorious shenanigans the public has been getting up to with that scanner. Although I’m not sure of the practicalities of unlocking a smartphone with Zenith and Quasar (my metaphorical moggies). (Yes I’m ignoring the serious fact that the iPhone 5S scanner has already been hacked.)

Beyond the commercial world, mobile does have implications from a human development perspective –

“Latest figures indicate that mobile phone penetration rates stand at almost 45 percent in low-income countries and 76 percent in lower-middle-income countries […] it is also estimated that 80 to 90 percent of people in some poor countries have at least minimal access to a cell phone.

That is in part because mobile technologies offer portable, real-time, communication and information access for people who previously had little to no access to affordable communication channels. Mobiles have relatively low physical infrastructure requirements and can reach remote areas in a more cost-effective fashion than other ICTs such as the Internet or fixed phone lines” Courtesey of

I’m not joining in with the Silicon Valley philanthropists and saying technology is the answer to all the worlds ills, but improved dissemination of information has huge implications for “enhancing democratic governance and other development areas such as health, education, agriculture, employment, crisis prevention and the environment.” Again from

Additional fun fact: 52% of web usage in India is on a mobile device.

Whilst I did find all of this information fascinating, I did learn it with a slightly distanced perspective. As you might have realised by now, me and the über-modern don’t exactly get on that well. I’ll blame my brother for getting me into PC gaming at an early age. One of the signs of the apocalypse is me renouncing the way of slightly annoying load times and taking my life into my hands as I try to upgrade my machine.

I do own a smartphone, and I use it, but I’m not chained to it. Given the choice between searching on a PC or a mobile device, I will always pick the former as I am a highly visual person. The more I can see, the happier I am.

But I will always own a smartphone. I’m too much of a Trekkie no to.

* Facts courtesy of Google