The King Car Education Foundation conducted a survey that suggests 80 percent of Taiwanese adolescents aged between 10 and 20 years old have a mobile phone of their own, and as much as 99.5 percent of university students have one. Although mobile phone addiction rarely develops into an anxiety disorder, as much as 93 percent of adolescents tend to have some form of nomophobia, a portmanteau of “no-mobile-phone-phobia,” which is the fear of being out of mobile phone contact. It means they feel uneasy if their mobile phone battery is depleted or if they do not have the phone with them. Nomophobics also feel anxious if people do not answer their calls or if the call does not go through.
The survey also suggests that although 27 percent of adolescents own smartphones, only 6 percent of them really use its Internet service or GPS navigation functions. Among youngsters who do not have mobile phones, over 80 percent find it “inconvenient” not having a cell phone, while 19 percent are concerned they will lose the connection they have with their friends without such a device.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) recommends parents regulate their children’s phone habits and the amount of time spent using the mobile phone according to necessity. The MOE also reminds school children not to use mobile phones to play games or browse the Internet, and to keep the phone as far away from their head as possible when they call someone or answer calls.
A medical doctor from National Taiwan University Hospital said that currently mobile phone addiction is rarely seen in clinical diagnoses. Using computer and Internet addiction as examples, the doctor said that if a person uses them for more than three hours a day or over 40 hours a week when they have nothing else to do, they should be concerned that such a situation might affect their life. Parents are advised to observe their children’s behavior. They should give special attention to situations in which they find their children becoming anxious when they do not have their mobile phone with them, if they always stare at the phone screen, if they expect an answer as soon as they send out a text message, and if they talk too long on the phone or the telephone fee becomes too high.
(LIBERTY TIMES, TRANSLATED BY TAIJING WU)