Nomophobia: The fear of running out of the mobile battery

Nomophobia, the fear of running out of mobile battery, is a modern-day phenomenon that affects millions of people around the world. With the increasing dependence on mobile devices, the fear of losing access to them has become a genuine concern for many. According to a survey conducted in India, more than 22% of participants showed signs of severe nemophobia, while 60% had moderate signs of the condition. Read this article to understand what nemophobia is, it’s causes and what are the symptoms of people who have developed a fear of running out of phone battery!  [1]  

What is Nomophobia?       

Nomophobia is a modern-day fear that refers to the anxiety experienced when one’s mobile device runs out of battery, loses signal, or becomes inaccessible. It is a term that was coined in 2008 by British researchers, nomophobia being an abbreviated form of „no-mobile-phone phobia”. This fear can manifest in different ways, such as feeling disconnected from others, not being able to access information, and giving up a convenience.

The fear of missing out is thought to be a major driver for people admitting they would answer a call even if they were in an important meeting. The UK study across 2,100 adults showed that participants are willing to interrupt an activity to answer the phone:

  • 80% of participants reported a willingness to answer a call or text when watching TV;
  • 40% said they would answer the phone during a meal;
  • 18% reported that they might answer the phone when they are in bed with another person. [2]

Characteristics of nomophobia

One of the primary characteristics of nomophobia is the fear of not being able to communicate with others when the mobile battery runs out. A study by LG shows that 9 out of 10 people experience anxiety when their phone battery drops to 20%. This fear might stem from the need to stay connected with family, friends, or work, leading to increased anxiety and discomfort.

nomophobia can cause individuals to feel generally disconnected from the world around them when their mobile battery is low or dead. This disconnection may lead to feelings of isolation, loneliness, or even panic, as people rely heavily on their mobile devices for social interaction and a sense of belonging.

Another key characteristic of nomophobia is the fear of not being able to access important information due to a dead mobile battery. People depend on their smartphones for various tasks, such as navigation, online banking, and staying updated with news and events. This dependence creates anxiety when individuals are unable to access these resources. 

Smartphones have become an essential part of our daily lives, offering a multitude of conveniences. nomophobia can be characterized by the fear of giving up these conveniences when the mobile battery runs out. This may include losing the ability to quickly check emails, access social media, or make use of various mobile applications. 

Symptoms and signs of nomophobia

Physical symptoms of nomophobia may include:

  • increased heart rate;
  • trembling;
  •  respiratory alterations;
  • agitation;
  • disorientation;
  • shortness of breath due to the anxiety related to their mobile battery running out.

Emotional and behavioral symptoms may include signs of restlessness, irritability, or anger when they are unable to use their mobile device or when the battery is running low. Individuals may also experience feelings of panic, helplessness, or depression if they are unable to charge their device or find a charging source. [4]

A common sign of nomophobia is the constant checking of the mobile device’s battery level, even when it is not being used. This compulsive behavior can interfere with daily activities and social interactions, as the individual becomes preoccupied with the fear of running out of battery. People suffering from nomophobia may avoid going to places or participating in activities where they know they might not have access to a charging source, such as outdoor events, travel, or social gatherings. 

Causes of nomophobia

Its exact cause is still poorly understood.

According to a 2016 study, the causes of nomophobia are related to the instant communication provided by the phone, as well as instant gratification, and both of these have the power of leading to addictive and compulsive behavior. A more recent study shows that the causes of nomophobia are:

  • obsessive thoughts and bingeing about using a smartphone
  • person-to-person sensitivity, the ability to evaluate skills and traits from nonverbal cues from others, which may include feeling inferior to others or/and social discomfort;
  • how many hours you use your smartphone each day. [5, 6]

To sum up, nomophobia is a growing concern in today’s society, affecting people’s mental health, relationships, and daily life. By understanding its characteristics, symptoms, and causes, we can better manage and overcome this modern-day fear.

Exposure therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and medications, as well as practical strategies such as using power banks, setting usage limits, and practicing mindfulness techniques, can help in addressing nomophobia. As technology continues to evolve, innovative solutions and future developments may also contribute to alleviating this fear.                                


[1, 2] Sehnaz BALTACI. “Nomophobia: The Fear of Being without Your Phone.” EPALE – European Commission, EPALE – Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe, 13 Oct. 2021, Accessed 5 May 2023.


[4] Bhattacharya, Sudip, et al. “NOMOPHOBIA: NO MObile PHone PhoBIA.” Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, vol. 8, no. 4, 2019, p. 1297,,%2C%20agitation%2C%20disorientation%20and%20tachycardia., Accessed 5 May 2023.

[5] Tran, Dewey. “Classifying Nomophobia as Smart-Phone Addiction Disorder.” UC Merced Undergraduate Research Journal, vol. 9, no. 1, 2016,, Accessed 5 May 2023.

[6] Gonçalves, Soraia, et al. “Nomophobia and Lifestyle: Smartphone Use and Its Relationship to Psychopathologies.” Computers in Human Behavior Reports, vol. 2, Aug. 2020, p. 100025,, Accessed 5 May 2023.    

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