Can't put down your phone? There's a fear for that - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Can't put down your phone? There's a fear for that

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It's being called the biggest phobia in the world – nomophobia -- or no mobile-phone-phobia. It's the fear of being without a cell phone, and it turns out over half of the population has it.

From email to social media, to calls and texts there are constantly new reasons to have your face in your phone. A study by Securenovoy found that people in the U.K. check their phones 34 times a day. It seems that number is higher here in the U.S.

"I use it for everything, calculator, email, school all that stuff," says Mirela Karamehick. "I mean 20 times an hour, probably a lot."

"I use it for music, obviously checking a lot of my school work is a big thing," Colin Cobb. "Constantly, I'm always always using it."

"I use it a lot for Facebook, emails," says Aaron O'Connor.

Karen Savio admittedly suffers from nomophobia.

"It's always right beside me."

Her iPhone 4 doesn't leave her sight. She constantly updates her Facebook status at the bus stop and sends emails at work. If she can't find it she feels physical symptoms.

"I feel exposed I do feel jittery I do feel anxious… my heart will start to race I'll start digging through the purse and it's like oh my god I left it somewhere."

The study found that 66% of people suffer from nomophobia.

"So a phobia technically the definition technically is kind of an irrational fear of something, fear of something such as spiders or heights or whatnot," says Dr. Michael Yasinksi.

Psychiatrist Michael Yasinksi says sufferers like Savio aren't necessarily unreasonable.

"The difference is that losing our cell phone, there's a lot of rational reasons why losing our cell phones is concerning and it is something that produces anxiety."

People who suffer from nomophobia fear running out of battery, losing sight of their phone and dropping a call.

"All of those things tend to cause a lot of anxiety for people so a lot of that can be prevented."

Savio's biggest concern is that her personal information could be compromised.

"I do banking on here, I've got my credit card information on it, my email, phone numbers, friends' contact information," says Savio.

But she admits a less rational fear comes from her need to instantly access and share information.

"I see something interesting, I hear something interesting I want to tell everyone right away."

The information addict says she can't stop thinking about her phone, even in the company of friends.

"Trying to maybe watch a movie with friends or with my husband, and it's a habit it's an instinct just to quickly pick it up even if it takes 30 seconds."

"Like most other addictions it usually comes down to how much it's affecting your leveling of functioning," says Dr. Yasinksi.

While Yasinksi believes that losing a phone is a rational fear, he says it can be just as disruptive as any other kind of addiction.

"I think really it comes to if you are having trouble at work with your friends, social life because of it, it's a problem."

Savio does fear that the pocket-sized computer is preventing her from living in the moment.

"Yeah I might see something if I'm hiking or at a concert, instead of taking it in and enjoying I've got to get pictures and video."

She never turns off her phone, which is a top symptom of cell phone addiction, along with obsessively checking for missed calls, emails and texts and constantly draining battery. Another sign is that inability to head to the restroom empty-handed. Yasinksi says people with severe cell phone addiction desire the rewarding feeling that comes with getting a call or text.

"The positive feedback is so strong that we've associated seeing our phone go off with a potential reward."

Savio says feelings for her cell phone are so strong that she can see it spiraling out of control.

"I guess I wish I could forget about it or just go without it for a while."

Yasinksi suggests stepping away from the phone for 5 minutes at a time, until phone fiends feel safe without their cell.

Women are more like to suffer from nomophobia. Researchers say that could be because more men have two phones.

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