If you’ve fallen victim to “phantom phone alerts,” the mysterious phenomenon where you think your phone is buzzing but it isn’t, it may be time to take a tech break. Experiencing the nonexistent vibrations could be an indicator that you are pathologically reliant on your cell phone, according to a new study.
A physical manifestation is an important component of defining an addiction, according to Daniel Kruger, lead author, IHPI member, and a scientist at U-M's Institute for Social Research. A hallmark sign of addiction is when people are hyperaware of the item and react accordingly, Kruger said. In the case of smartphones, this may mean people think they’re hearing their phone alert and then feel compelled (or have an excuse) to check it.
Kruger and his team analyzed surveys and assessments submitted by more than 700 undergraduate students. The questionnaires measured everything from personality traits, like conscientiousness and neuroticism, to whether or not participants experience anxiety when disconnected from their device.