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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 69-72

Prevalence of nomophobia and use of social networking sites and applications – A cross-sectional study among undergraduate students in a medical college of Eastern India


1 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Ramkrishna Institute of Medical Sciences, Durgapur, West Bengal, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital, Siksha 'O' Anusandhan Deemed to be University, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India

Date of Submission19-Aug-2019
Date of Decision22-Nov-2020
Date of Acceptance15-Jan-2021
Date of Web Publication25-Jul-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Lipilekha Patnaik
Department of Community Medicine, Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital, Siksha 'O' Anusandhan Deemed to be University, Sector-8, Kalinga Nagar, Ghatikia, Bhubaneswar - 751 003, Odisha
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jdmimsu.jdmimsu_125_19

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  Abstract 


Background: Nomophobia (NMP) refers to the discomfort or anxiety caused by the nonavailability of a mobile phone, computer, or any other virtual communication device. It is considered as a modern age phobia due to interaction between people and communication technologies, especially smartphones. Objectives: The objective was to know the prevalence of NMP and to study the pattern and dependence on most popular social networking sites and applications among medical undergraduates. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among undergraduate students of a medical college. Data regarding sociodemographic characteristics, use and addiction to smartphones, Internet, social networking sites, and messaging applications were collected and analyzed by SPSS software. Results: Among 338 students, 87.6% were using their smartphones most of the time in a day. About 56.6% of the students liked to come back to get their smartphone if they had forgotten while going out. All had access to Wi-Fi and 96.2% had their own Internet connection. About 47.6% used Internet immediately after waking up in the morning. Common symptoms seen with loss of contact with their smartphone were loneliness (40.6%), panic attacks (10.4%), depression (5.7%), etc., All students had NMP and among them, 22.1% had mild, 61.5% had moderate, and 16.4% had severe NMP. Conclusion: The concept of NMP is doubtful to be considered as a disorder, but it has become a serious modern-day problem and should be intervened at the earliest.

Keywords: Internet, medical students, smartphone, WhatsApp


How to cite this article:
Kundu A, Patnaik L, Pattanaik S, Sahu T. Prevalence of nomophobia and use of social networking sites and applications – A cross-sectional study among undergraduate students in a medical college of Eastern India. J Datta Meghe Inst Med Sci Univ 2022;17:69-72

How to cite this URL:
Kundu A, Patnaik L, Pattanaik S, Sahu T. Prevalence of nomophobia and use of social networking sites and applications – A cross-sectional study among undergraduate students in a medical college of Eastern India. J Datta Meghe Inst Med Sci Univ [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Aug 18];17:69-72. Available from: http://www.journaldmims.com/text.asp?2022/17/1/69/352212




  Introduction Top


In today's modern and digital world, a new disorder nomophobia (NMP) (No Mobile Phobia) is emerging. NMP refers to the discomfort or anxiety caused by the nonavailability of a mobile phone, computer, or any other virtual communication device.[1] A mobile phone has made our life easier by improving connectivity irrespective of our presence at any place and become an essential part of today's life. Its use is not only limited to communication purposes but it also provides innumerable benefits such as Internet, social networking, E-mail, calculator, calendar, gaming, camera, and music player.[2] The Indian market is the second-largest consumer market after China for mobile phones.[3]

Nowadays, smartphone has become an inseparable part of our life, from the moment we wake up until the second we fall asleep. The increasing utilization of these devices is causing changes in individuals' behavior and daily habits. Although there are several advantages of smartphones, these can lead to both physical and psychological pathologies such as damages related to electromagnetic field radiation, car accidents, social isolation, and depression and anxiety linked to the fear of not being able to use new technological devices.[4]

In professional institutes, students are staying in hostels away from family, which is increasing the dependency on mobile phones, especially smartphones. Besides the communication and connectivity with family and friends, these phones were used for other purposes and lead to various problems. Therefore, this study was conducted among medical undergraduates with the objectives to know the prevalence of NMP and to study the pattern and dependence on the most popular social networking sites and applications among them.


  Materials and Methods Top


This was a cross-sectional study conducted among undergraduates in a medical college of eastern India. A predesigned and pretested questionnaire was used after obtaining informed written consent. The questionnaire consisted of three parts: first part assessed sociodemographic characteristics including age, gender, academic year, type of mobile phone used, and the age at which they started using mobile phone; the second part assessed the pattern of use of Internet, social networking sites, and messaging applications (use and addiction to smartphones, Internet, social networking sites, and messaging applications were collected); and the third part consisted of NMP-questionnaire (NMP-Q).[5],[6] The NMP-Q included twenty items which were rated using a 7-point Likert scale, with 1 being “Strongly Disagree” and 7 being “Strongly Agree.” Total scores were calculated by summing up responses to each item of NMP-Q, resulting in a NMP score ranging from 20 to 140, with higher scores corresponding to greater NMP severity. NMP-Q scores are interpreted as follows: an NMP-Q score of 20 indicating the absence of NMP, an NMP-Q score >20 and <60 corresponding to a mild level of NMP, an NMP-Q score ≥60 and <100 corresponding to a moderate level of NMP, and an NMP-Q score ≥100 corresponding to a severe NMP. The reliability of the questionnaire was tested using Cronbach's alpha in the pilot study of twenty students, and it was found to be 0.813. Universal sampling method was adopted, and a total of 338 students who were present during the survey were included in the study. Participants of the pilot study were excluded from the analysis. Data were analyzed using the SPSS software version 20 (IBM, Armonk, New York, USA) licensed to the institution.


  Results Top


The mean age of the study population was 21.12 ± 1.19 years, ranging from 18 to 24 years. Among them, 50.3% were male and 49.7% were female. In our study group, all students had their own smartphone. The mean duration of smartphone use was 42.20 ± 22.76 months. In our study population, 87.6% use their smartphone most of the time in a day except sleeping hours. About 56.6% of the students said that they would like to come back to the hostel to get their smartphone if they had forgotten while going out. About 40% of the students said that they could not even travel 1 km without their phones.

All students had NMP. Among them, 16.9% had severe NMP, 57.4% had moderate NMP, and 25.7% had mild NMP. There was no significant difference found between male and female students and the severity of NMP (P = 0.61).

Among the study population, 60.7% got anxious if they forgot their smartphone or running out of battery or out of signal in their phone. Only 33.4% of the participants switched off their phones in classes and rest (66.6%) used occasionally. Among the students, 66.6% kept their smartphones switched on throughout the day and only 18% of them switched off their phones during sleep.

Among them, 19% agreed that they felt insecure without their phone. Half of the study population (50.6%) felt that they were accompanied by someone while using their smartphone.

More than half of the students felt that their freedom of movement was restricted without their smartphone. All of the students had access to Wi-Fi in their hostels, and 96.2% also had their own Internet connection in their phone. Among the study group, 72.5% often use Internet in their phone. In this study, it was found that most commonly used applications or sites among the students were messenger applications (WhatsApp, WeChat, and Telegram), social networking sites/applications (Facebook and Twitter), and entertainment sites/applications (YouTube and Hotstar). The pattern of usage of most popular social networking sites/applications and effects of Internet on health and lifestyle are shown in [Table 1] and [Table 2], respectively. Among the study group, 46.4% of the students did not feel any problems when they are not with their smartphone. Common symptoms seen with loss of contact with their smartphone were loneliness (40.6%), panic attacks (10.4%), and feel depressed (5.7%). Other symptoms reported were tachycardia, sweating, tachypnea, rejection, and tremor.
Table 1: Pattern of usage of most popular social networking sites and applications

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Table 2: Effect of Internet on health and lifestyle

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  Discussion Top


In our study, it was seen that all the medical undergraduates had NMP, which is consistent with the finding of the study done by Farooqui et al.[7] However, Sharma et al.[8] and Dasgupta et al.[9] reported the prevalence of NMP to be 73% and 42.6%, respectively. These variations of prevalence might be due to the use of different tools, lack of uniform methods of assessing prevalence, and difference in the study period.

About 60% of the students said that they could not leave the hostel without their smartphone, which is lower than the study by Akanlisikum et al. (88%).[10] In this study, 60.7% got anxious if they forgot their smartphone or running out of battery or out of signal in their phone. This finding was similar to the finding of the study done by Prasad et al.[2], where 61.4% of students agreed that they became anxious while running out of battery or out of signal in phone. Another study from the United Kingdom by Barney[11] revealed that 53% of the participants tend to be anxious when they lose their mobile phone, run out of battery or credit, or have no network coverage. This shows that young adults have become reliant on mobile phone which has affected their social behavior as well as their mental health.

In our study population, 87.6% use their smartphone most of the time in a day except sleeping hours. More than 60% of the students spend more than 3 h in different applications or sites in their phone. This finding was comparable with the study done by Li et al.[12], where 50.8% of students spent their time more than 4 h on cell phone usage. Our study also revealed that 66.6% of the participants occasionally used their phone in class, which was similar to the study done by Li et al.[12], where about 69% of students used their cell phones in class. In a study done by Prasad et al.,[2] 31.6% of students used cell phones while their classes are going on. This shows that their fascination toward smartphone may cause negative impact in their academic performance.

In this study, it was observed that health problems such as redness of the eye and insomnia were seen due to prolonged use of mobiles, which is similar to the finding of the study done by Farooqui et al.[7]. Loneliness, panic attacks, depression, and tachycardia were the symptoms reported by the participants due to loss of contact with their smartphone. These findings were similar to the study done by Sharma et al.[8], where the common problems associated without smartphones are panic attacks, headache, and lethargy. Farooqui et al.[7] also found similar problems such as anxiety, panic attack, depression, and tachycardia among participants with loss of contact with the phone.

The concept of NMP is doubtful to be considered as a disorder, but it has become a serious modern-day problem, and our study findings also supported this concept.


  Conclusion Top


All students were found to have NMP with varying grades. Moderate-to-severe grade found among 83.1% of the medical students. Medical students have the responsibility to learn and serve the community, but their mental and physical health is being greatly influenced by smartphones. It is evident that NMP is becoming a serious concern in the modern era, so early and ideal steps should be taken to tackle this problem and help them to get rid of their dependency.

Limitations

NMP is being a new concept and different researchers assessed the prevalence by using different tools giving variation in the prevalence which needs further exploration. This study was conducted among medical undergraduates, so the results may not be generalized to the population.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
King AL, Valença AM, Silva AC, Baczynski T, Carvalho MR, Nardi AE. Computers in human behavior nomophobia: Dependency on virtual environments or social phobia? Comput Human Behav 2013;29:140-4. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2012.07.025. [Last accessed on 2020 Jan 08].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Prasad M, Patthi B, Singla A, Gupta R, Saha S, Kumar JK, et al. Nomophobia: A cross-sectional study to assess mobile phone usage among dental students. J Clin Diagn Res 2017;11:ZC34-9.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Delhi N, Subscribers TT, Wireline W, Subscribers UT, Subscribers RT, Tele-Density O, et al. Telecom regulatory authority of India. Int J Res Med Sci 2017;3:1-19.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Pavithra MB, Madhukumar SM. A study on nomophobia – Mobile phone dependence, among students of a medical college in Bangalore. Natl J Community Med 2015;6:340-4.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Yildirim C, Correia A. Computers in human behavior exploring the dimensions of nomophobia: Development and validation of a self-reported questionnaire. Comput Human Behav 2015;49:130-7.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Yildirim C. Exploring the Dimensions of Nomophobia : Developing and Validating A Questionnaire using Mixed Methods Research by Caglar Yildirim a thesis Submitted to the Graduate Faculty in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science Ma; 2014.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Farooqui IA, Pore P, Gothankar J. Nomophobia: an emerging issue in medical institutions? J Ment Health 2018;27:438-41.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Sharma N, Sharma P, Sharma N, Wavare RR. Rising concern of nomophobia amongst Indian medical students. Int J Res Med Sci 2015;3:705-7.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Dasgupta P, Bhattacherjee S, Dasgupta S, Roy JK, Mukherjee A, Biswas R. Nomophobic behaviors among smartphone using medical and engineering students in two colleges of West Bengal. Indian J Public Health 2017;61:199-204.  Back to cited text no. 9
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
10.
Akanlisikum A, Aziale LK, Asampana I. An empirical study on mobile phone usage among young adults in Ghana: From the viewpoint of university students. Int J Comput Appl 2014;98:15-21.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Barney K. Phone-Reliant Britons in the Grip of “Nomo-Phobia”; 2008. Available from: http://sci.rutgers.edu/forum/showthread.php?98014-Phone-reliant-Britons-in-the-grip-of-nomo-phobia. [Last accessed on 2017 Oct 04].  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.
Li M, Kang HS, Huang CY, Alaboud A, Tsai HH. Cell Phone obsession: Impact on Students Learning and Social Behaviour;2017. p. 11-26.  Back to cited text no. 12
    



 
 
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