Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Plano parents combat nomophobia through cellphone app
The app allows parents to put a lock on their child's cellphone during chosen hours of the day.
When Glenn and Wendy White gave their daughter her first cellphone, its primary function was for emergencies only.
But a couple of years, an unlimited texting plan, and a few social networking sites later, the Plano parents now hope they can use their experience living with a cellphone addict to help other parents combat the phenomenon being called nomophobia before it begins.
"More and more of [my daughter's] friends were getting cellphones and/or laptops, she was constantly texting and using her laptop, sometimes simultaneously," said Wendy on her Facebook page, which the Whites use educate parents on nomophobia. "She was starting to develop the mentality that she must always be connected. Those habits were learned in her early teenage years that have been detrimental to this day."
Nomophobia (or no-mobile-phone phobia) is the fear of being out of mobile phone contact, and was coined during various studies in the United Kingdom and India, which have observed anxieties and other effects experienced by chronic cellphone users over the past several years.
According to a March 6 CNN article titled, "Rise of 'nomophobia': More people fear loss of mobile contact," recent research sponsored by SecurEnvoy, an internet security firm, show that more people feel anxious and tense without their phone. The stress is heightened the younger they are, as well, according to the study.
A recent online survey of 1,000 people in the U.K. found that almost two-thirds (66 percent) of respondents were afflicted, 11 percent more when compared to a similar study four years ago, according to the CNN article.
Having learned the hard way about the effects of cellphone addiction through their daughter, the Whites began thinking of ways in which they could help other parents prevent nomophobia before it starts. Ironically, their solution comes in the form of a cellphone app.
Since its release in February, the parental control app for Android phones has been sold to people all over the world, from Singapore to Florida to France, proving that parents in America are not the only ones combating cellphone addiction. The app basically allows parents to put a lock on their child's cellphone during chosen hours of the day, such as when they are in school or while they should be sleeping or doing homework.
Glenn realized firsthand the temptations that smart phones have when he got his first one about a year ago, and said he hopes the app might allow parents to regain some control without having to enforce punishment.
"We thought it might be a good thing to do for parents and children; children of course, won't appreciate it but maybe later on they would," Glenn said. "Addiction is a learned thing, we didn't grow up with this, and don't realize it until you get it."
Like her daughter, Wendy has a smartphone and frequents Facebook and Twitter, all of which she checks throughout the day. The difference between her and her now 23-year-old, she said, is that it is not a learned behavior for Wendy and therefore, she is in control. That is not usually the case for children and teenagers, who are spending many of their adolescent years with a cellphone close at hand.
"As a parent, you need to take control of your child's distractions," Wendy said. "I think when you become a parent, your whole life is nothing but hard decisions to make for your child. I have the benefit of hindsight to see how these behaviors have developed."
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