Nomophobia, a word that is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary website as “a pathological fear or dread of not having one’s mobile phone,” has been said by professionals to have recently plagued our nation’s young adults and the generations to come.
This term, coined in 2008, may have been the focus of many jokes directed towards the generation of phone-obsessed teens, but “no-mobile-phone phobia” has been said to have evolved into a serious disorder with detrimental effects on much of Keene State’s student body.
A Keene State College sophomore, Valerie Troilo, said she can confirm that.
Troilo admitted that she uses her cellular device “more than [she] probably should,” and touched upon a few of the consequences of nomophobia on KSC’s population.
“I would definitely say Keene is affected by cell phone addiction,” Troilo said.
Troilo continued, “Sometimes I’ll be having a conversation and either I’ll pull out my phone or the other person will and the conversation immediately fades out. I’ve also seen and experienced the harmful effects social media has had on our generation and the drama that ensues from it.”
Troilo explained that she recognizes social media’s heavy influence on not only herself, but on KSC’s population as a whole.
Guardian Liberty Voice writer Mariah Beckman explained in her article ‘Social Media is Addictive’, nomophobia is a disorder that has become all too-serious in recent generations.
“In 2011, 54 percent of social media users were self-described addicts, to some small degree. To offer some perspective . . . Facebook has 1.4 billion profiles . . . Instagram . . . boasts 200 million active users,” Beckman said in her Liberty Voice article.
Although some may not admit it, students and professors alike have agreed that nomophobia has undoubtedly plagued the majority of the student body.
Whether students are walking down Appian Way, eating in the Dining Commons, or sitting in classrooms, mobile phones have been increasingly seen as a consistent factor in a student’s daily life to onlookers.
Dan Miller, a senior at KSC, is a unique student in the population that does not own a smartphone.
Miller said that he, too, noticed the outbreak of nomophobia throughout KSC’s campus.
“I see everyone around me on their phones any chance they can get, whether it’s in class, walking through the student center, even at the gym,” Miller said.
Confirming Troilo’s point, Miller stated that often times he’d notice others completely tune-out of conversations after taking out their cell phones and aimlessly perusing social media sites—many without even noticing.
“It’s hard to hold a conversation while someone’s looking at their phone because you can tell their attention just isn’t fully focused on the topic you’re discussing,” Miller said.
Miller continued, “Since I don’t have access to social media on my phone, I feel completely unattached to it; like I could leave it at any time.”
Miller said he sometimes feels detached from the rest of campus because of his lack of access to the Internet at all times.
Katherine McLaughlin, health science professor at KSC for the past eight years, looked at the subject of nomophobia from a different perspective.
She explained that she had seen the progression of cell phone use increase dramatically within the last three or four years, and felt irritated about the disturbance of cell phone addiction in a learning environment.
“I’ve seen lots of research on multitasking and using cellphones while attempting to complete other tasks. The findings have shown that, yes, you may physically be able to perform multiple exercises at the same time, but you are definitely not reaching your full potential,” McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin continued, “I do know many departments are creating policies to restrict phone use in the classroom. Some professors see a student on their phone and immediately take a point off their final grade without a word about it. I just hope for students to be present and active in class discussions without distraction.”
When asked the fate of our generation in regard to the nomophobia epidemic throughout Keene’s campus, sophomore Valerie Troilo said that she thinks that, with the advances in technology today, the reliance on mobile phones will undoubtedly worsen.
She said that she sees signs of the addiction everywhere she goes on campus and she expects to see it worsen.
Troilo said that she is worried about the fate of the generation in years to come.
“Only time will tell, I guess. I’m worried though,” Troilo said.
Professor McLaughlin, however, expressed her hope for change in cell phone addiction among KSC’s population and in our generation as a whole.
“I feel the reliance on mobile devices is not as much of an addiction as it is years of bad habit and I’m confident that as a whole, we can change those habits,” McLaughlin stated.
Aryanah Haydu can be contacted at ahaydu@Keene-Equinox.com.