Nervous when out of cell range? You may have nomophobia.

If you didn’t have enough on your mind, here’s something else to worry about: nomophobia, the fear of being out of cell phone contact.

It hasn’t been recognized in The Lancet yet as a medical condition, but the term (short for "no-mobile-phone phobia") was coined in a 2008 study by the U.K. Post Office that found that 53 percent of British cell phone users were nervous when out of touch. Most of those afflicted said they never turn off their phones.

Apparently it’s getting worse. A recent study for the U.K. authentication vendor SecurEnvoy found about two-thirds of users now suffer from the phoneless phobia. It’s worse among women (70 percent of those surveyed) than among men (61 percent), and worst among youngsters (77 percent of those between 18 and 24). No reports yet on the U.S. population, although with our penchants for worry and technology we would seem to be ripe for the condition.

What is really disturbing about the SecurEnvoy study, however, is that despite the compulsive need to use the phones, less than half of those surveyed use any security to protect them.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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Reader Comments

Fri, Mar 16, 2012 TXFed TX

I suffer from the opposite - I dislike my mobile phones so much that I am constantly leaving them at home or in the car accidently, turned off for hours or even days after going to see a movie, and leaving it in the bedroom when I get home so I can hear them ring. However, I DO have security on both the work and personal smartphones.

Fri, Mar 16, 2012 SusanF Austin, TX

It's true I am rarely without my phone, but I no longer have a land line, either, so it's my main communication. In the rare instances I forget it at home, I don't feel the need to go get it unless I'm expecting an important call. It's true I don't lock it, too, but my phone is not smart. For smart capability, I use an iPad, which I do have locked down with a complex password (as opposed to the 4-digit PIN) that I change regularly. But, I'm a member of an older generation (I'm 52, though a programmer since 1973), so others' results may vary.

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