Obsessed smartphone users experience ‘phantom vibrations’

Many people are so hooked on their phones that they experience ‘phantom vibrations’ and think they’ve received a text when they haven’t.

A study from the University of Worcester says that, far from making people’s lives easier, smartphones are piling on the stress.

Interestingly, the stress is associated with personal use of the phone, rather than work, with users compulsively checking for messages.

Over 100 people, including students and people working in a range of different fields, were given a questionnaire and a psychometric stress check. And in some ways, a smartphone appeared to reduce stress by allowing people to control their workload.

However, once people have bought a smartphone for work, they tend, naturally, to start using it for social purposes – and this is where the problems start.

Many of the people in the study reported being stressed out by pressure to keep up with their new contacts and the messages pouring in.

They checked their phones obsessively, often imagining that they’d felt the phone vibrate when in fact no new messages had arrived. Discovering the truth pushed their stress levels still higher.

“Smart phone use is increasing at a rapid rate and we are likely to see an associated increase in stress from social networking,” says Richard Balding from the University of Worcester.

“Organisations will not flourish if their employees are stressed, irrespective of the source of stress, so it is in their interest to encourage their employees to switch their phones off; cut the number of work emails sent out of hours, reduce people’s temptation to check their devices.”