The official student news site of The Benjamin Middle School in North Palm Beach, FL

Nomophobia

Or How I Stopped Texting and Learned to Love the Simple Things

December 19, 2013

Wikipedia Definition: Nomophobia is the fear of being out of mobile phone contact. The term, an abbreviation for “no-mobile-phone phobia”, was coined during a study by the UK Post Office who commissioned YouGov, a UK-based research organization, to look at anxieties suffered by mobile phone users.

The study found that over 53% of cell phone users in Britain suffered from anxiety when their phone was off or not available immediately. In fact, there is a recently formed online crisis website called Nomophobia.com which shows how people may get help for this condition.

I, as a reporter, recently went five days without my phone. It was from a Friday to a Tuesday (yes, I took the plunge and decided to include the weekend). While doing this, I kept a journal, and every time not having my cell phone was a discomfort, I logged the reason. I knew it would be a challenge, but I could still listen to music with my little iPod Nano. So is a phone really necessary? Well, here’s my log:

Friday (3:20 PM): I wanted to play Whale Trail on my phone like everyone else at dismissal…… just standing there awkwardly does not do much for me.

Friday (Midnight): So, I’m growing all these virtual vegetables on FarmWorld, and now they are all dead. My virtual neighbors buy their food from me. Now they have no food. The whole town is going to die. Should I break down and use my phone? Should I save the FarmWorld universe? Nah, it’s ok, I never liked my Farmworld neighbors anyway.

Saturday (8:00 AM): Kale Smoothies! I put protein powder, kale, spinach, frozen pineapple, Omega oil, and almond milk in them. Mom is near Whole Foods. I can’t text her to pick up more protein powder. Dad won’t let me on his phone – he says it’s not necessary. No jumpstart to my day. I’m as malnourished as my virtual neighbors in Farmland.

Sunday (10:00 AM): Doing math in my living room. Bored with algebra. Wanted to knowhow my friend in California is doing. NO Instagram!

Sunday (4:00 PM): The tables are turned! Now I’m at Whole Foods with only my dad. My mom wanted me to have a different Omega oil in my smoothie and I couldn’t text her. Dad still won’t text for me! Annoying.
Sunday (6:00 PM): Cruel Irony: What if Mr. Crisafi sends me a Remind 101 text to do my article about going without my iPhone and I can’t get his message because I don’t have my iPhone?

Monday (7:00 PM): Could really use another protein smoothie. I am freaking out because my stress levels are super high because I do not have my phone.

Monday (11:00 AM): Oh no. Forgot my spandex. Volleyball practice this afternoon and Mom’s not home. I’m so sorry, Ms. McAllister! Please forgive my 2 inch inseam!

Monday (8:00 PM): I was done with my homework and wanted to check my Twitter. Why do I rely on social networking?! How do I know what my neighbor is doing if I want to meet up with her? How do I know if I got a new follower? (Cue extreme anxiety attack to the extent of throwing my pasta at the window).

Monday (9:00 PM): I wanted to watch the new One Direction music video, “Best Song Ever,” and it is. I am so naming my daughter Georgia Rose. Or Diana. I am marrying Louis Tomlinson on June 14, 2025. It’s on my phone calendar. I’d show you if I had my phone!

Tuesday (7:00 AM): I wanted to text Anna to see if I was able to play in the volleyball game. Please forgive me for missing a practice! Put me in, Coach!

Tuesday (10:00 AM): How can I post anything on Instagram? Really cool new pictures that may or may not be of me and my cardboard cutout of Louis Tomlinson. That was a joke. Kind of.

In total, I figured out that living without my phone was not unbearable, but it took adjusting to. I was most bothered when I did not have anything to do when I was just sitting around. The good side was, I went outside a lot more, and helped around the house more.

Once I got my phone back, I immediately checked my texts, I had 23. Mostly from the same person. Since this person does not go to Benjamin, she thought I was angry with her because I had not responded for five days. But everything turned out okay. I also had about twenty new followers on Instagram, and on Twitter. Louis Tomlinson retweeted me! (@mmmkkkayyyy_ to: @Louis_Tomlinson @onedirection “Loved the movie so much! I will never not cry during it! I agree, brand spanking new looks really weird.”) Louis Tomlinson. My idol. One fifth of One Direction. My life. Oh my God. My cardboard cutout in my bedroom in real life. Best moment of my life! (Cue extreme screaming attack at one in the morning).

On a more serious note, or, as I like to call it, Gaming Mode (I promise you, Black Ops requires my maximum level of seriousness), the cell phone policy has tightened up in the Middle School. The rule has always stated that there is absolutely no communication from cell phones at school, but some students were not taking the rule seriously enough. “[The rule] was exactly the same last year as it was this year,” stated Mr. Cavallo, the middle school dean. However, the students wouldn’t (or couldn’t) take it seriously last year. Mr. Cavallo is thus being even more vigilant in enforcing the rule. Looks like there are a lot of nomophobics in the Middle School.
Unfortunately, some students and teachers have issues with this rule, because now how can we capture the moment in Mr. Sander’s science class? Or snap a photo of

Connor Howley’s Flaming Green Slime, or the big Sodium Blast? Or record the perfect quote for an interview for Print Publications class? I mean, imagine how hard it would be to interview with pencil and paper! Amateur.

Mr. Crisafi, who teaches Print Publications and Introduction to TV and Film has admitted that this rule interrupts usual classroom procedures. Mr. Crisafi says, “[The banning of cell phones] hinders my class because it is very easy for students to use a pocket-sized device such as a phone to conduct interviews for yearbook or newspaper. Mr. Hagy said originally to use an iPad but not everyone has an iPad or a tablet. It’s also a big, heavy device to carry around. Everyone has a phone, usually an iPhone.” The other option would be to “buy digital recorders for the students, but it’s not practical or cost effective.” Fortunately, Mr. Hagy has allowed the Print Publication students to use their phones for interviews, as long as the phones are returned to their lockers immediately after class.

However, Mr. Hagy has not been as lenient with Mr. Sanders, whose science classes were also slightly impacted. “I used to let the students take pictures on their phones of the cool things they were doing in science because I knew they all wanted it on Facebook or whatever,” said Sanders. However, the School has requested this year that no students post pictures to their social media accounts at school. “I also let them take pictures of the notes on the board, so they could study on the way to school and things,” added Mr. Sanders. “Because wherever the student is, their [sic] phone is. No one can use the excuse ‘I didn’t have the notes’ because we know they did.”
“I think we’re starting the school year off with a clear depiction of the levels of expectation that we want from the students,” Cavallo said. Which is most likely why he gave me such a hard time for interviewing him with a cell phone without my press pass. I’m sorry Mr. Cavallo!

“As far as I can tell by the number of green slips this year, I only have one for cell phones. So I would have to say [the policy is effective],” Cavallo pointed out. Although, he added that “young people are very savvy in terms of their ability to hide their cell phones.”

“We’re trying to protect the students from all the new technology distractions,” he said. “It’s been an evolution, but assuming that Nomophobia is an actual phobia, I don’t think anyone here has it,” laughed Cavallo. “I hope not.”

Well, I might have to call someone to diagnose me.

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