kid reaching for smartphone

Smartphone addiction is a serious problem. If you have ever had to take away your child’s phone, the signs of addiction are evidenced by their reaction. Every human being who has and uses a smartphone can attest to how easy it is to overuse their phone, and many admit that the addiction is one that is unbreakable.

Thanks to a study conducted at Iowa State University, there is now a scientific way to measure your smartphone addiction.

Nomophobia (no mobile phone phobia) refers to the fear and anxiety triggered by not being able to communicate or access information on our smartphones. The Iowa State study builds on previous research which found that being separated from your smartphone can have a real psychological and physiological effect, including impaired thinking.

Russell Clayton, a doctoral candidate and the study’s lead author said, “iPhones are capable of becoming an extension of ourselves such that when separated, we experience a lessening of self and a negative physiological state.”

The questionnaire developed to measure smartphone addiction breaks down nomophobia into four basic parts: not being able to communicate, losing connectedness, not being able to access information and giving up convenience.

Take The Test

Are you a smartphone addict? Rate each item on a scale of 1 (“completely disagree”) to 7 (“strongly agree”) and tally up your total score to find out. Be honest!

1. I would feel uncomfortable without constant access to information through my smartphone.

2. I would be annoyed if I could not look information up on my smartphone when I wanted to do so.

3. Being unable to get the news (e.g., happenings, weather, etc.) on my smartphone would make me nervous.

4. I would be annoyed if I could not use my smartphone and/or its capabilities when I wanted to do so.

5. Running out of battery on my smartphone would scare me.

6. If I were to run out of credits or hit my monthly data limit, I would panic.

7. If I did not have a data signal or could not connect to Wi-Fi, then I would constantly check to see if I had a signal or could find a Wi-Fi network.

8. If I could not use my smartphone, I would be afraid of getting stranded somewhere.

9. If I could not check my smartphone for a while, I would feel a desire to check it.

If I did not have my smartphone with me …

10. I would feel anxious because I could not instantly communicate with my family and/or friends.

11. I would be worried because my family and/or friends could not reach me.

12. I would feel nervous because I would not be able to receive text messages and calls.

13. I would be anxious because I could not keep in touch with my family and/or friends.

14. I would be nervous because I could not know if someone had tried to get a hold of me.

15. I would feel anxious because my constant connection to my family and friends would be broken.

16. I would be nervous because I would be disconnected from my online identity.

17. I would be uncomfortable because I could not stay up-to-date with social media and online networks.

18. I would feel awkward because I could not check my notifications for updates from my connections and online networks.

19. I would feel anxious because I could not check my email messages.

20. I would feel weird because I would not know what to do.

5 teenagers looking at their phones
Add Up Your Responses And….

  • 20: Not at all nomophobic. You have a very healthy relationship with your device and have no problem being separated from it.
  • 21-60: Mild nomophobia. You get a little antsy when you forget your phone at home for a day or get stuck somewhere without WiFi, but the anxiety isn’t too overwhelming.
  • 61-100: Moderate nomophobia. You’re pretty attached to your device. You often check for updates while you’re walking down the street or talking to a friend, and you often feel anxious when you’re disconnected. Time for a digital detox?
  • 101-120: Severe nomophobia. You can barely go for 60 seconds without checking your phone. It’s the first thing you check in the morning and the last thing you see at night and dominates most of your activities in-between. It might be time for a serious intervention.

Smartphone addiction is such a widespread issue that kids as young as 13 are now being treated for technology addiction at a facility in Seattle, Washington. The reSTART Life Centre is the only treatment unit of its kind in the western world and helps tweens and teens with addiction to digital technology and video games.

My favorite piece of research I found on the topic? Nearly 20 percent of young adult smartphone owners in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 34 use their smartphones during sex, and nearly 1 in ten U.S. adults who own smartphones use them during sex.


Andrea Difilippo is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, nationally recognized parenting expert and Chief Parenting Officer with Social Judo.