Have you ever felt like your phone was vibrating or ringing and then took it out to discover that it wasn’t?
You’re not alone.
According to a 2012 study involving 290 college students from the United States, 89 percent of students said they sometimes felt the phantom sensations if their mobile phone was in their pocket. 40 percent of students said that it happened at least once a week. Another 2010 study of 169 hospital workers found about 70 percent of them experienced the same phantom vibrations as well.
This phantom vibration syndrome has become so common in our technological age that researchers and psychologists have dedicated studies to it.
Many claim that devices such as smartphones are changing how our brains process information. A sensation caused by movement of our clothes or a tingle caused by neurons makes us think that it is being caused by our mobile phones, however, this is just a hallucination caused by learned bodily habits. The 2012 study, published in the Computers in Human Behaviour journal, suggests that frequent use of cellphones by people have made them “part of their body” similar to the way that wearing glasses is, so much so that we even forget that we are using them.
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Dr. Larry Rosen, a research psychologist, says in an article that this could easily turn into obsessive, compulsive behaviour.
However, the 2012 study found that while these phantom vibrations affected a majority of the college students, they weren’t much bothered or tried to stop them. It also discovered that conscientiousness was negatively related to the frequency of phantom vibrations and the emotional reactivity of a person to texts was related to how much they were affected by phantom vibrations. A more conscientious person would experience less phantom vibrations, and if someone had powerful reactions to text messages (that was higher in the emotional reaction subscale of text message dependence), then they would be more bothered by these phantom sensations.
According to these findings, targeting people’s emotional reactions to text messages could be helpful in combating the negative consequences of both text message dependency and phantom vibrations.
Psychologists also recommend taking breaks from technology for short periods of time such as 30 minutes to an hour. Not only will this help in keeping our anxiety levels down but may also help reduce this phantom vibration syndrome that has become a part of our daily lives.