Interplay and psychopathological risk of nomophobia and cyber-bullying

The increase in daily and excessive use of cell phones in the past decade has contributed significantly to the rise in nomophobia. Nomophobia is an indicator of the anxiety experienced by smartphone users (or any technology connected to the Internet) when they face the inability to use these devices. For its part, cyber-bullying consists of all forms of aggression (physical, verbal, psychological, sexual, and others), which occurs in an electronic context involving the Internet, for example, on social networks, communication forums, by texting/calls, etc. These two concepts seem to have an interesting connection, but few studies have focused on identifying the links that bring them together. Therefore, researchers Catone et al. (2020) set to describe the association between nomophobia and cyber-bullying. This study was part of the different spheres of analysis of the Naples study on bullying and youth mental health called BYMHNS.

To carry out this major project, 2,959 students from twelve colleges in Naples (Italy) completed a questionnaire grouping together questions related to different themes: 1) the phenomenon of mobile dependence (dependent on smartphones) 2) reflexes to validate that their phones are still in their companies 3) the presence or absence of the ghost / absent phone signal 4) if there is the presence of cyberbullying (both on the side of victimization or perpetration). The study spanned two years, so participants were invited to participate several times to obtain longitudinal results to observe a change or regression in behaviour. First, 97% of participants said they own a smartphone, and 69% admitted using their phones excessively.

After completing cross-sectional analyzes, the researchers concluded several interesting results, two of which stood out:

1. Individuals characterized by higher nomophobia are more likely to exhibit cyberbullying behaviour, specifically related to the perpetration.

2. Mobile addiction/nomophobia and cyberbullying are both potentially linked to emotional and behavioural problems (i.e., hyperactivity).

This study highlights the potential link between nomophobia, excessive phone use, and cyberbullying (perpetration) behaviours among young people. However, the researchers are keen to mention that more studies will be needed to determine the direction of the relationships that remained uncertain in this study. Longitudinal studies may help clarify missing pieces of information

To cite: Catone, G., Paolo Senese, V., Pisano, S., […] Broome, R. M. (2020). The drawbacks of Information and Communication Technologies: Interplay and psychopathological risk of nomophobia and cyber-bullying, results from the bullying and youth mental health Naples study (BYMHNS), Computers in Human Behavior, 113.