Online and Mobile Dependence Reach New Extremes

Unlike SoHo in New York City and SoMa in San Francisco, NoMo and FoMo aren’t popular urban neighborhoods. They’re being used to describe phobias related to widespread reliance on mobile and social media. NoMoPhobia is the fear of being without mobile devices and FoMo is fear of missing out.

A recent New York Times article focused on ‘internet use disorder,’ defined as those who are unable to disengage from online activity. While this hasn’t officially been classified yet as a mental condition, it’s being studied further.

In the meantime, media and tech companies have conducted their own studies and are using the results to coin unofficial terms for the public’s electronic addictions.

NoMoPhobia/Fear of being out of mobile contact. Being separated from one’s mobile device is a well chronicled domestic and international concern, as evidenced by different surveys conducted in the U.S. and the U.K.

In a recent T-Mobile survey, U.S. respondents were given the choice of going without mobile phones or other critical belongings. For many, mobile phones won out. Specifically, rather than being without their cell phones, 29 percent would rather be without cash and 25 percent would rather be without their credit cards. (These numbers will likely increase as more mobile apps enable financial transactions.) Interestingly, eleven percent would rather leave home without their pants than their mobile phones.

In a recent study by SecurEnvoy, two-thirds of U.K. adults acknowledged having NoMoPhobia, up from 53 percent in 2008. On average, results showed that people check their phones 34 times per day and three-quarters bring their cell phones into the bathroom (or loo) instead of the newspaper.

FoMo/Fear of Missing Out: “So much happens at such a quick pace that I often feel as though I’m missing out on something interesting or important.” NBC Universal Integrated Media has used this definition in its Curve research among 18 to 49 year olds. One-quarter of respondents reported regularly having this anxiety.

OSD/Obsessive Status Disorder: “When I’m experiencing different events, I often find myself thinking in status updates, or how I will document the experience on my social networking profile.” In the same NBC study, 29 percent of those aged 18 to 24 said they can relate to this obsession.