A wood background with a smart phone and a hand

Do You Experience Phantom Vibration Syndrome?

By Paige Greene
Web Content Assistant Manager

Have you ever felt your phone, smartwatch or tablet vibrate but there was no notification? This is an increasingly common phenomenon that experts are calling Phantom Vibration Syndrome.

Robert Rosenberger, assistant professor of Philosophy at Georgia Institute of Technology, describes the phenomenon as when “phone users perceive their device to vibrate, indicating that a call or text is incoming, when in fact the phone did not vibrate at all.”

According to Independent, nine out of ten people experience this while their mobile phone is in their pocket. We perceive clothing movement and muscle spasms as vibrations, but it is just a hallucination.

Before the term was coined, it was often called “ringxiety” and concerned researchers if we are too online. In the 1990s, cartoonist Scott Adams referred to a similar sensation as “Phantom Pager-Syndrome.”

Rosenberger claims that our tendency to check our phones comes from the basic human nature to obsess. This is similar to when we constantly check the driveway for a guest.

The hallucinations have been called a form of pseudo-hallucinations that are especially common in teenagers and young adults. Then, the more you use your phone, the more likely you are to experience these hallucinations.

Few people actually find these sensations bothersome and receive them less frequently, but those who are more dependent on checking their phone may be more bothered by the vibration.

We often use our phones as a way to cope with stressful moments and use our devices as a security blanket or stress reliever. Experts found that higher levels of stress and phone use are associated with Phantom Vibration Syndrome.

Whether it is Phantom Pager Syndrome, Phantom Vibration Syndrome or “ringxiety,” if you own a smartphone you have more than likely experienced this phenomenon. Does this mean we are too reliant on our technology? Or are our brains changing with the times as well?

Featured Image by Paige Greene

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