You’ve heard of FOMO, now it’s FOBO

woman_cellphone_talk_1600_wht_7922FOBO – Fear of being off-line.

Previously we had FOMO – fear of missing out and “nomophobia” – fear of being without your phone.

People are becoming increasingly obsessed with their smartphones. You see people walking around with them in their hands rather than putting them in their pocket or bag.

In restaurants they put them on the table by their plate. They take them to the bathroom with them (how many people have dropped their phones down the loo?). They keep them switched on under their pillow at night.

At the sound of an alert they rush to see who is calling, texting or e-mailing, breaking off from conversations and interrupting their work.

If they haven’t had an alert for a while they will need to check the phone anyway. And if the battery goes flat it’s panic stations. Then they might resort to stealing electricity on a train or going on-stage to plug into a (fake) socket – both true stories.

Last year Iowa State University of Science and Technology carried out a survey to judge the extent of nomophobia or smartphone separation anxiety.

People said they would feel “worried and nervous” if their family and friends couldn’t contact them instantly and feel “annoyed and uncomfortable” without constant access to information via a smartphone and they would be “scared” if they had a flat battery.

According to a recent Gallup poll 81% of smartphone users keep them near them almost all the time during waking hours and 63% do so even when they are asleep. 75% of users log on before they do anything else in the morning and 1 in 10 checks e-mails immediately after sex!

Dr Larry Rosen, a professor of psychology at California State University thinks we’re all suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). he believes our relationship with our smartphoes are causing us to suffer from anxiety-based disorders (see recent post on smartphones and depression). We need the constant checking to re-assure ourselves.

He refers to the locus of control, a psychological concept related to how we run our lives. Do we let the smartphone control us or do we control it?

His students tested an app which measured how many times they unlocked their phones each day and how long they spent on them. They averaged 60-70 times a day for an average of 3 minutes – that’s checking eight times an hour and spending at least 3 hours a day on their phones.

Studies have shown how anxious people get if they have to have their phones switched off even for just 10 minutes. Not being allowed to answer a phone when it rang raised heart rates.

Young people believe they can multi-task, each succeeding generation claiming more and more multi-tasking ability which is nonsense.

What’s to be done? Professor Rosen doesn’t believe digital detoxing works i.e. a cold turkey approach not using your phone for several days. He recommends a technology break approach. Check your phone for a minute then switch off for 15 minutes. Gradually increase it to 20 minutes and then 30 and so on. Gradually weaning yourself off the “always on” mentality.

You could also try just answering or checking your phone when you feel like it. That means you are in control. That’s my approach but I’d happily provide cold turkey treatment for some people I know!

He also says don’t check your phone first thing in the morning Wait until you’ve showered, had breakfast etc. Even better wait until you get to work. And don’t check the phone during the night as it interrupts your sleep patterns.

He says “My hope is that people will start spending more quality time with people in front of them rather than the people contained in that box. Because of this omnipresent device we’re not allowing ourselves to have these human experiences.

I also hope that this will free our brains from the neurotransmitters that signal anxiety because we know that constant levels of anxiety are just not good for us. They eventually lead to anxiety-based disorders. We don’t want to become OCD. We don’t want to constantly check. We don’t want to feel driven by something outside of us” (having an external locus of control).

In other words get a life!

41WD+tWmpAL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Professor Rosen wrote “iDisorderUnderstanding our obsession with technology and overcoming its hold on us” (2012) and his new book, due out next year, is “The Distracted Mind”

Source: The Times Body & Soul section


FOMO: Our obsession with Smartphones

woman_cellphone_talk_1600_wht_7922I posted in July about the fact that 40% of women are unable to go more than an hour without checking their mobile phones or tablet for a new message.

They feel compelled to repeatedly look at their digital gadgets for fear they might be missing out on news and gossip (FOMO).

And a third of British women say they would rather lose their passport than their phone that they are so dependent on.

And would you believe 1 in 5 of them say their smartphone is as important as their husband, a quarter say it’s as important as their best friend?

The study by eBay also found that almost half of the women had taken a call or sent a message during a date and 1 in 6 have done so while making love.

Obsession or what? And it’s just as bad in America where a study of students found that many of them spent half their day using digital media of some kind.

Well now. following a new survey, it has a name “Nomophobia” (No-Mobile-Phone-Phobia) and it’s being suggested that just over half of the British population fear being out of mobile phone contact. Women are 17% more likely to suffer from this new phobia than men.

1 in 5 people say they check their phones in bed and over 40% take them to the beach.

Almost a third of people check their work e-mails at home with men more likely to do that than women but women are more likely to check their phones during a date.

It’s clear smartphones are seen as much as a social tool as a business one and are used for storing a lot of personal data. The company that carried out the latest survey expressed concern that only half of us use a password to secure our data.

Dumbing down that smartphone

icon_flow_smart_phone_loop_500_wht_9550Have we reached smartphone-peak?

Have we finally realised we need to unplug ourselves from endless apps and social media connections? No more anxiety from FOMO or FOBO?

The NoPhone might have been a prank by two Canadian entrepreneurs having a dig at the latest smartphone upgrade but now there is a real alternative: the Light Phone.

It’s the size of a credit card and can make calls and store 10 numbers and that’s it. Retro or what?

It will be launched in the US by two friends, Joe Hollier and Kaiwei Tang, who used to design Motorola phones (I loved my flip-top Motorola) but grew jaded with the constant pressure to come up with increasingly addictive and life-consuming apps.

If you believe the statistics – and I find these figures unbelievable and not sure of their source – we tap our phones on average 2,617 times a day with almost 90% of us unable to resist checking our devises at leat once between midnight and 5.00 am. I am clearly an outlier in these statistics and in my usage despite blogging and using several twitter accounts.

Another survey from Deloitte however seems to confirm this trend with users aged 18-24 the worst offenders in that they are the ones most likely to use their phones in the middle of the night. These people are truly addicted and as Paul Lee, who led the research at Deloitte says “Consumers will need to learn how to run their lives with smartphones, as opposed to having their lives run by their devices.

Another trend is that of using video calls and social networks rather than standard voice calls which are declining. (Perhaps people like the idea of free calls and encryption?) A third of the respondents in the survey said they hadn’t made a voice call in the previous week.

Deloitte’s Key findings:

  • One in three UK adults has argued with their partner about using their mobile phone too much, according to Deloitte.
  • The rows were most common among 25-34 year olds the report found, while 11% of over 65s admitted arguments about overusing phones.
  • About a tenth of respondents admitted using their handsets “always” or “very often” while eating at home or in restaurants.
  • A third said they regularly used their devices while with friends or watching television.
  • One in three UK adults – and half of 18-24 year olds – said they checked their phones in the middle of the night, with instant messaging and social media the most popular activities.
  • One in 10 smartphone owners admitted reaching for their phone as soon as they woke up – with a third grabbing the device within five minutes of waking.

However it’s also been reported that a few famous showbiz people have said they are giving up social media and doing a digital detox but I’ll believe that when I see it. They are too narcissistic to be away from their digital followers for long.

nokia-n70 150px-nokia_3310_blueThere is however a market for old Nokia phones, such as the 3310 and N70, which are selling for hundreds of dollars online (I never liked Nokia phones with their fiddly keyboards but for a time they ruled the world).

But back to the Light Phone. It will sell for $100 in America and should be available in the UK by the end of the year. It shares the same number as your regular phone forwarding calls to it. It’s called “going light” – no emails , games or apps. Perfect when you’re out for a meal or enjoying some quiet time in the countryside.

One of the inventors said  he was constantly checking what other people were doing on social media and it was chipping away at his own contentment. (See post about social media and depression which proves his point).

I found I was getting lost in these scroll holes. I would come out not necessarily feeling good about myself. My smartphone was sucking me in. As soon as I stepped away – I call it breaking through the fomo threshold, getting over the fear of missing out, I felt free“.

He said he realised he was happier in those disconnected moments “when I can watch a sunset, appreciate my friends. We want to make a product that helps people appreciate their lives, not control their lives”.

The Light Phone is not a substitute for a smartphone but a supplement, but if it allows you to get away from all the social media intrusion. “Even just 20 minutes for a coffee“. He doesn’t see it as a retro regressive step but as asking the question about what we actually want from technology.

images-1It reminds me that I’ve got a simple Motorola W220 phone I bought in Lithuania 10 years ago to use on my regular trips out there.

No camera, less than £50, on a “pay as you go” contract. But it’s a flip top. It  might be so retro it’s trendy!

Restaurant are too noisy!

coffee_table_talk_PA_500_wht_6082According to campaigners for the hard of hearing, restaurants are getting so noisy that it’s spoiling people’s enjoyment of the food.

They put part of the blame for the trend of clean decor or minimalist interiors. No carpets, curtains or table cloths to absorb the noise.

I think some restaurants, particularly Italian ones, also create noise deliberately in the belief it adds to the ambience.

For those of you who dislike noisy eating places help is at hand. The charity Action on Hearing Loss is fundraising to develop a mobile app that will allow you to record the decibel levels and enable the loudest restaurants to be “named and shamed” – and avoided by those who want a quiet night out.

The data collected will be fed back to a central database so that an interactive map can be created to let users know which restaurants to avoid.

They are taking this direct approach after writing to 70 restaurant groups – high street chains like Waga-mama, Pizza Express and the group that owns Garfunkels and Frankie & Benny’s – highlighting the problems of excessive noise and offering suggestions as to how it can be reduced. Not one bothered to reply.

The charity cites a recent survey that says 4 out of 5 people have left a restaurant, cafe or pub due to excessive noise and 90% of them saying they wouldn’t return.

Loud music is also a problem according to Pipedown which campaigns to stop shops and restaurants playing music. They say unwanted noise raises your blood pressure and increases your stress levels, apart from damaging your hearing if at very high volumes.

Pipedown had a significant success recently in persuading Marks & Spencer to stop playing background music.

Good luck to both these charities. I’m fed up of struggling to have a conversation when eating out. And while they’re at it they should consider banning smartphones too!

Ditch your smartphone, get out in the countryside, and feel better about yourself


Nature lovers are significantly less anxious and have higher self-esteem than people obsessed with their smartphones according a recent study.

They are also more conscientious, emotionally stable and more open to new experiences than those addicted to technology.

The on-line research at the University of Derby examined people’s mobile phone use and their connection to nature. Participants were also assessed on their personality and self-esteem

It found that those most in touch with nature used their phone half as much each day as the rest of the population and were more emotionally balanced i.e. 2 hrs 15 mins each day (which seems a lot to me) compared to 4 hrs 8 mins for those less connected to nature.

They also took 87% fewer selfies but three times as many pictures of nature.  So we can probably assume that they are also less narcissistic.

Miles Richardson, head of psychology, said “Nature connectedness isn’t about going back to some halcyon days where we lived in harmony with nature. It’s about realising our place in a wider ecology here and now

I’ve posted on this topic several times over the past few years and my message is still the same. Forget the smartphone (and social media) and get a life!

School pupils need lessons in getting a good night’s sleep

stick_figure_sleeping_1600_wht_5121Teensleep is a project being rolled out in English schools by Oxford University to help pupils sleep better and improve their exam results as a result.

The teenagers will be taught about their body clocks and the circadian rhythm which shifts in their teens and again when they reach their twenties. They will also learn about the damaging effects of watching TV or playing video games late at night and how the blue light from screens disrupts their sleep cycle.

The project will involve 100 schools divided into four groups. One will start classes at 10.00 am or later, one group will receive sleep education, one group will have sleep education and start lessons later, and the fourth (control) group will follow the usual school timetable.

Professor Russell Foster hopes to get enough data from the project to enable a definitive view to be reached. He said “Studies in the States have shown that if you start the school day later you can reduce self-harm and truancy and academic performance goes up.

Pupils’ grades will be measured before and after the interventions and wrist-worn monitors will record sleep patterns. The teenagers’ modes will also be assessed.

One college principal says that “parents have a more relaxed attitude about bedtimes these days and teenagers’ rooms are like entertainment zones. A lot of kids are involved in playing video games against kids from other countries across different time zones so they stay up much later. The 24/7 social media lifestyle is a real issue. If you wake up in the night and find you have to reach for your phone to check what is on, that will prevent you going back to sleep

Many children are suffering from poor quality or disrupted sleep and as a result are tired and irritable in school. They fuel themselves on  caffeine or sugary drinks, and then they can’t sleep. Professor Foster thinks teenagers need nine hours sleep a night for peak intellectual performance.

  • Sleep helps consolidate memories, integrates information, and clears toxins from the brain.
  • Lack of sleep increases impulsivity, reduces empathy and causes memory difficulties. It also releases hormones which make you feel hungry which contributes to the obesity epidemic.

Not everyone agrees with starting school lessons later. As one head said “We have to prepare pupils for the adult world, which often doesn’t revolve around them”.

Improve your sleep by:

  1. making sure your bedroom is comfortable and dark with no distracting noises
  2. have a winding-down routine 60-90 minutes before bedtime. Read a book or play relaxing music. Write a diary or plan the next day.
  3. switch off all electronic devices and televisions at least an hour before you want to sleep
  4. don’t use smart phones, iPads or watch TV in bed
  5. set a regular time to get up and stick to it
  6. if you are not asleep in 15 minutes go through your winding-down routine again until you feel sleepy

Too many people are addicted to their smart phones and suffer from FOMO. Students are particularly obsessed with social media

Source: Sunday Times

See previous post on getting a good night’s sleep and becoming smarter

Meet up after school, chat with your pals?

Spotted one afternoon in local supermarket. Teenagers after school or college. All of them immersed in their smart phones. Not actually communicating with each other face-to-face. No wonder employers complain about the lack of social skills in this generation. Too concerned with missing out (FOMO) and being away from their phones (nomophobia). iPhone zombies, get a life!P1030067

Pet hates that get us worked up

Where do we start?

  • Slow wi-fi (slower than little Lithuania)
  • Calls about payment protection insurance
  • Calls about car accidents or accidents at work (I have a colleague who regularly answers these in a fake Chinese accent or spins an elaborate story)
  • Calls claiming to be from Microsoft saying our computer has a problem (I like to keep them online as I struggle to find the Microsoft start button on my Apple computer)
  • Endless junk mail
  • People taking up two parking spaces
  • Drivers hogging the middle lane
  • Failing to find the start of the sticky tape (especially when you’re dong last-minute wrapping of presents)
  • People trying to get on trains, buses or trams before passengers have got off
  • Endless uploads of kids’ photos on Facebook by enthusiastic Mums

And I could add to that people dropping litter or throwing it from cars.

About 1 in 3 of people surveyed by Nurofen said that the daily hassles made them feel ill and 1 in 5 had stress-related tension every day.

two_way_puzzle_people_1600_wht_4872And when it comes to annoying your loved ones.

Top moans are:

  1. Talking when they’re watching a TV programme
  2. Getting up to stretch or changing position on sofa (or in my case turning over the pages of a newspaper)
  3. Men sitting with their hands down their pants
  4. Having to watch your partner picking their nose
  5. Chatting on the phone during a programme

Other annoying behaviours reported in a survey by a TV broadcaster including fighting over the remote control and clipping your toe-nails. Some of these are pretty gross aren’t they.

I’m surprised that paying more attention to your smartphone than your partner wasn’t on the list.

A survey by Swiss International Airlines found that 1/3 of Brits admitted checking their mobile phones while out with partners and almost as many dined with the phone on the table in case of alerts. FOMO is alive and well!

They also admit that they do not connect with other adults as they once did and most people get upset when people check their phones during a conversation. Well it’s just rude isn’t it?

Smartphone users – get a life!

icon_flow_smart_phone_loop_500_wht_9550The latest research on smartphone use should make any intelligent person think twice about how they use their time.

Adults between 18 and 24 spend 4 hours and 20 minutes a day on their phones, with women spending 23 minutes longer than men. By comparison over 55s spend two and a quarter hours a day on their phones.

Despite this a third of us believe that smartphones have not made us any more productive.

The statistics quoted above mean that adults are spending the equivalent of one whole day a week on their phones. They use it 221 times a day for social networking, e-mailing, texting and other tasks. People connect to Facebook without realising why – just a thirst to be connected it seems.

People start using their phones at 0731 (and the new selfie trend to share pictures of people who have just woken up which is replacing the ice bucket challenge will only add to these early starters) and finally put it down at 2321. Of course if you can’t get to sleep you can always play with your phone until you do.

  • 80% of us feel lost if separated from their phones (see my earlier post on FOMO)
  • 70% of us use smartphones to make us look busy when we’re on our own (can’t be seen to not have friends?)
  • 60% of us text people working in the same building rather than finding them for a face-to-face conversation
  • 2/3 of us have started using our phones without realising why. This is more common with women (see earlier post on this)

Much of the information from this research, carried out for TecMark a digital marketing firm, is not new but as Professor Luciano Floridi at Oxford University says “If you give complete freedom to social animals, guess what happens we overdo it. We’ve never had so many opportunities to communicate with each other. But we need to learn with social media what we’re learning with obesity – that overdoing it can be bad”

And that includes being bad for your health.