Smartphone addiction could be changing your brain

(CNN) — You may be one of the growing number of Americans (or global citizens) who has a bit of nomophobia.

“Nomophobia?” you mutter as you read this on your ever-present smartphone. “Of course not.”

“NO MObile PHOne phoBIA” is a 21st-century term for the fear of not being able to use your cell phone or other smart device. Cell phone addiction is on the rise, surveys show, and a new study released Thursday adds to a growing body of evidence that smartphone and internet addiction is harming our minds — literally.

How do you know if you’re addicted? There’s an online (of course) quiz to find out, which has been translated into Spanish, Italian and Turkish.

Rate your responses on a scale of 1 (completely disagree) to 7 (strongly agree) and add your score. According to Caglar Yildirim, an assistant professor of human computer interaction who created the scale for use in his research at State University of New York at Oswego, a score of 20 or below means you’re not an addict; a score of 21 to 60 means you’re mildly nomophobic; and a score of 61 to 99 means you probably can’t go long without checking your phone.

“It might be a good idea to be conscious of that,” Yildirim said, “but we are only concerned if it starts to interfere with your daily life.”

Did you score between 100 and 200? You’re probably struggling with severe anxiety when you can’t access your cell phone, he said.

“This might negatively affect your social life and relationships with friends and family,” Yildirim said. “There are studies that show those who score high on the test tend to avoid face-to-face interactions, have high levels of social anxiety and maybe even depression.

“It might affect your ability to work or study, because you want to be connected to your smartphone all the time,” he added. “So if any of this applies to you, then it’s time to start looking at your behavior and level of anxiety.”

SecurEnvoy, a two-factor authentication company, conducted research using a polling panel (which is not as scientific as a randomized poll) and found that 66% of people in the United Kingdom have some form of nomophobia. Notably, 41% of the participants said they had two or more phones to make sure they stayed connected.

Surveys by the Pew Research Center this year showed that 77% of Americans own smartphones, up from 35% in 2011.

Ninety-five percent own a cell phone of some kind.

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