Investigating nomophobia as a possible mental health disorder in Gauteng public schools
Keywords:Nomophobia, mobile devices, educators, learners, addiction, Gauteng schools
A person’s fear of not having a mobile phone on hand may inhibit certain aspects of a person’s life. This study sought to investigate nomophobia (the irrational fear of not having access to mobile devices) as a possible mental disorder in the Gauteng education sector. To address nomophobia as a possible mental health disorder in Gauteng schools, one needs to understand the usage of mobile devices by both educators and learners in the classroom context. A mixed-methods, single-case research study (MMSCR) was adopted with two phases. In the quantitative phase, data were collected using a close-ended questionnaire, while in the qualitative phase, data were collected using open-ended questions during face-to-face, semi-structured interviews. The data obtained revealed that respondents displayed mild to severe nomophobia; in some cases, educators displayed even higher levels of nomophobia, compared to learners. The findings of the study indicate, inter alia, that educators feel uncomfortable without access to their mobile devices, while learners admit being addicted to playing games and spending time on social media on their mobile devices. Although both educators and learners use their mobile phones to access resources for schoolwork and to keep in touch with family and friends, they also agree that they constantly use their mobile devices for other, non-education purposes. Recommendations include that the Department of Education must recognise that nomophobia does affect teaching and learning and must provide counselling therapists for educators and learners. Furthermore, a policy for the use of mobile phones must be introduced for both educators and learners.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Nico Botha, Zyliekha Matwadia
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