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Teenagers' big fear: lacking a cellphone
New Zealand Created: 17 Aug 2009
Some teens are so dependent on their mobile phones that they see them as an extension of themselves and experience a sense of dread when they are separated from them, a syndrome dubbed "NoMo phobia".
Adolescent psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg says he's observed the phobia in his clients over the last few years.
"It's a fear of not having with you a functioning mobile phone," Dr Carr-Gregg says.

The Sydney-based psychologist says many of the 12- to 24-year-olds he sees feel they can't cope without their phones, leaving them on during consultations.

"[They're].. absolutely indispensable, you could not go out without it, it's your lifeline, your major vehicle through which you arrange your social life."
For teens, a mobile phone is their primary social tool - they use it to make calls, text message, post updates on Twitter and check Facebook.
"They've becoming increasingly important tools of socialisation, far more important than I think the vast majority of adults, certainly Gen-Xers would ever realise," Dr Carr-Gregg says.
If their mobile goes awry "it's social death", he says.
"No other time in your life is the desire to socialise and be with your age mates [so] strong as in adolescence.

"Adolescence is all about socialising.

"The reason why they have to socialise is they're trying to figure out who they are," a process which Dr Carr-Gregg says is vital to their development and self-definition.
"It's replaced the milk bar - the mobile phone is now a virtual milk bar."
Many teens sleep with their mobile buzzing beside their bed - resulting in a phenomenon Dr Carr-Gregg refers to as "zombie kids". These will struggle to concentrate and focus at school.
"Many kids stay up very, very late at night texting one another," he says.
"The most sleep-deprived segment of the population now is, in fact, young people.
"The reason why they're so sleep-deprived is technology and one of the prime items of technology that's keeping them awake is their mobile phone."

He suggests parents create a rule and set an area of the home where all mobiles must go after a specified time and stay until the morning.

"I was told a very amusing story by a colleague of mine who has a teenage girl," Dr Carr-Gregg says.
"He was sick of the mobile phone going off so he took it off her and he put it by his own bedside but forgot to turn it off.
"The thing basically went off all night and the last text message was received about 4am."

Dr Carr-Gregg likens this sort of behaviour to the "morning chorus" of birds - tweeting to one another when the sun rises.
"The reason why they tweet to one another is to find out who survived the night," he says.
"This, in my view, may be the equivalent of a sort of morning chorus ... the kids are reaching out to each other all night making sure that they're okay."
NZ Herald Sat Aug 15, 2009
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Source: Catherine Gamba

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