Phantom phone alerts

By | February 2, 2017
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close up of hands texting on cell phones.

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 too reliant on your cell phone. According to a new study headed by Daniel Kruger, 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 and his team analyzed surveys and assessments submitted by more than 700 undergraduate students. Unsurprisingly, those who felt anxious away from their phones (in other words, dependent on them) experienced more phantom notifications. Ultimately, Kruger hopes their findings alert people to the very real threat of device dependency. “Certainly, it pushes in the direction of saying, ‘Hey, whether you want to call it dependency or addiction, it’s real, it’s important, and we should be paying attention to this,’” he said.

(Updated March 22, 2017 to include a link to Professor Kruger’s new article on this subject.)