Mental, HEALTH

Nomophobia: more and more teenagers are suffering from its symptoms

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Sccording to data from the Ministry of Health, 80% of young people (between 12 and 18 years of age) use mobile phones intensively and 18% of adolescents use them compulsively. Statistics show that the latter segment is experiencing exponential growth in recent years, and this is precisely the group to which special attention should be paid due to the high risk of becoming addicts. A serious mental health problem which predisposes them to develop behavioural pathologies and different disorders, such as hyperactivity, anxiety, insecurity and even depression.

In this regard, specialists warn of an increase in consultations of 12-year-old patients with psychological problems that have their origin in the extreme use of mobile devices. The warning sign is usually detected years after the use of the phone. In other words, the disorder starts at a very early age due to constant "overstimulation" caused by screens. "Mobile phones have a relaxing effect. They cause the body to generate dopamine, which is the neurotransmitter responsible for our happiness. It is responsible for our sense of satisfaction, well-being and fulfilment," he explains. he explains Antonio de Dioshead of the psychology from Hospital Quirónsalud Marbella.

This is a generation born in a digital environment that considers the mobile phone an essential tool for communicating with the world and, in the expert's opinion, this factor is key because "their brain is in a developmental phase and they are particularly vulnerable people who feel the need to feel accepted in a group, seeking the I like it in social networks".

The problem arises when there is an extreme use of the mobile phone that could be reflected in the state of constant alertness to incoming notifications, the monitoring of every message received, or the imperative need to stay active on the device. A pathological attitude for which the term nomophobia ("no-mobile-phone-phobia") has been coined. Nomophobia is the irrational fear of being without a mobile phone. It is a dependency based on the feeling of isolation and a high level of emotional discomfort for the person when the electronic device is not available.

Antonio de Dios says that personal insecurity is the most common cause of nomophobia. "They are always trying to please the other person, so they need to be permanently connected in order to be available to the group and not feel alone. They don't want to disappoint others," he says. That's why the addiction is usually to social networks or instant messaging, and not so much to other types of apps related to weather forecasts, health advice or transport information.

Specialists point out that the example of parents at home is fundamental to establish a healthy habit of mobile phone use. "The role of the family as a first-rate preventive agent is unquestionable. It is important for parents to be attentive to their children's screen habits and to teach them to make reasonable and responsible use of the device. Above all, it is essential that parents set an example at home by their own actions", he stresses. Adelaida Sanchezhead of service of paediatrics from Hospital Quirónsalud Marbella.

In the event of any suspicion of mobile phone addiction, it is advisable to seek psychological help and have the case studied by an authorised professional on a personalised basis.

Seenomophobia warning signs

Some of the signs to watch out for, especially in adolescents, are:

  • Compulsively checking your mobile phone to check notifications.
  • Show excessive anger if you run out of wifi, or if you are limited in your use of your phone.
  • Sleeping with the device in close proximity, even in bed or under the pillow.
  • Discomfort at not being able to consult it constantly.
  • Getting nervous when someone does not reply to a message.
  • Carry portable chargers with you when you go out for fear of running out of battery power.
  • Insomnia, as the activating effect of the screen before going to sleep and the constant anxiety of checking the phone prevents the person from getting a good night's rest.
  • Underachievement in school.
  • Not being able to enjoy leisure time without a mobile phone in your hand.
  • Socialisation problems.