Nomophobia

Nomophobia

Rishi Raj Bahl (Duquesne University, USA) and David DeIuliis (Duquesne University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7666-2.ch015

Abstract

The first investigation of mobile phone addiction, a survey conducted by the UK Post Office in 2008, found that close to 53 percent of people in the UK suffered from a persistent, irrational fear of being disconnected from their mobile device. Later, in 2012, the British cellphone company SecurEnvoy reported that as many as 66 percent of the population suffered from nomophobia that induced stress levels comparable to those felt when getting married or going to the dentist. Before these surveys were conducted and the term coined, several scholars have done pioneering work on mobile phone addiction, both theoretically and practically. A review of this extant literature indicates that nomophobia is commonly considered an “emerging problem of the modern era” (Dixit et al., 2010), or a “disorder of the modern world” (King, Valencia & Nardi, 2010). In this article, however, we approach nomophobia as a young concept with an ancient history intimately intertwined with culture, consciousness, and communication.
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Intellectual History

In order to make the shift from nomophobia itself to the cultural conditions that make it possible, understanding the intellectual history in the field of media ecology needs to be explored. The term “media ecology” can be defined as “the study of media environments, the idea that technology and techniques, modes of information and codes of communication play a leading role in human affairs (Media Ecology Association, 2014).” Therefore, theoretically, media ecology centers on the principles that technology not only profoundly influences society, but it also affects virtually all walks of life (Strate, 2004). Neil Postman (1992) first formally introduced the term in 1968, while media ecology as a theory was proposed by Marshall McLuhan in 1964. To substantiate this theory, McLuhan argues that it is the media of the epoch (time period) that characterizes the spirit of the society by presenting four eras: Tribal Era, Literate Era, Print Era and Electronic Era. These correspond to the dominant mode of communication of the time respectively (McLuhan & Fiore, 1996). McLuhan argues that communication media acts as an extension of the human senses in each era, and communication technology is the primary cause of social change (Gencarelli, 2006).

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