A great way to get students thinking about psychological issues, ideas and concepts has always been to relate them to something they are familiar with or have a great affinity towards. The smartphone is something that ticks both of these boxes and can be used as the basis for a variety of psychological discussions.
Take for instance, nomophobia. This term is widely reported to have first appeared in 2010 (although it was actually 2008) following a research survey by YouGov on behalf of the UK postal service, which found that 53 percent of mobile phone users in Britain reported being anxious should they "lose their mobile phone, run out of battery or credit, or have no network coverage."
Simply by asking the question - How long do you think you could go without your smartphone? - is almost guaranteed to provoke a lively class discussion, from which you could then go on to explore a range of issues. For instance, this would be a great topic for a research methods class. Here's an example of a simple activity.
Imagine you are conducting a research project on nomophobia.
How would you go about measuring nomophobia?
What methods of data collection would you use and why?
What steps would you take to ensure that your findings were reliable?
This is just one of numerous approaches you could take to explore nomophobia within a psychology class. As someone who has never suffered from nomophobia and is unlikely to do so anytime soon, I’d personally like to explore nomophobia in relation to the psychology of social norms. You see, I don’t actually have a smart phone, cell phone, mobile phone or whatever you want to call it.
This is not only a source of constant embarrassment for my two teenage sons but also a topic that is met with utter disbelief when mentioned in public. No matter how much I explain that there was once a time before cell phones and everybody managed to cope just fine, I’m often left with an overwhelming sense, that the person I’ve just told, genuinely believes that there must be something wrong with me!