What is Phantom Vibration Syndrome (PVS)?

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in Hardware, Mobile

Have you ever felt your phone vibrate, but the moment you reach out for it and take a peek, there’s nothing on the screen? Even if this happened to you, you have no reason to worry. Phantom vibration or phantom ringing syndrome is not new, and you don’t even need to have your phone in hand to feel it. Phantom ringing can happen anywhere: on the couch while watching TV; while riding the bus; during the shower.

What is Phantom Vibration Syndrome?

According to Wikipedia, Phantom Vibration Syndrome is the perception that a cell phone is vibrating or ringing even when it is not doing so. Doctor Michael Rothberg says we’re using the wrong term. His on the opinion that it’s not actually a syndrome, but a “phenomenon”, better characterized as a tactile hallucination, as the brain perceives a sensation that is not actually real.

Although the names used for the syndrome are associated with smartphones (phantom ringing syndrome, ringxiety, fauxcellarm, phonetom or phantom phone signals) the syndrome begins earlier, with the introduction of vibrating pagers. Back in 1996, Scott Adams made a reference to “phantom-pager syndrome” in the Dilbert comic strip. The symptoms described in the comic are similar to smartphones, only in this case it’s a pager“

What is Phantom Vibration Syndrome?

The first research was done in 2007, and the term Phantom Vibration Syndrome has been accepted ever since 2012.

Reasons why we feel vibrations that are simply not there

We do not yet know the reasons why we feel these physically nonexistent vibrations. One of the theories is people’s addiction to phones and a developed body habit. The human brain tends to be hypersensitive to stimuli, even more so if we are expecting some important communication. Another theory is that the brain may be misinterpreting some stimuli, so a muscle contraction, clothing rubbing against the body, or a ringtone could be the cause of the phantom vibrations.

The syndrome can appear after using the phone from one month to one year. Smartphones In the last ten years, smartphones have become an everyday attachment to the common man, so the syndrome is even more intensified. Professionals who actively use phones, whether it’s a call or a message, are more likely to be “victims” of phantom vibrations.

In 2010, research was published by Michael Rothberg, focusing on the risk factors for experiencing phantom vibrations.

The results of the research showed that out of 169 medical persons who participated as respondents, 115 felt phantom vibrations. Most of them used a mobile phone between a month and a year. As many as 13 percent of the respondents who felt the phantom vibrations had them on a daily basis.

Research has shown that there are four factors that influence the syndrome. How long the doctor has been practicing medicine; where is the phone carried, in his shirt pocket or on his pants; how many hours during the day is the phone used; how often is the ringer and/ or the vibration on.

A 2015 survey of 290 college students who regularly use smartphones found that 89% of them felt phantom vibrations, and as many as 40% felt them at least once a week.

Can you stop the phantom vibrations?

In general, feeling phantom vibrations is not hazardous to your health. However, in some cases it can lead to restlessness and anxiety.

The good news is that research has actually managed to come up with information on how to reduce symptoms. Users who changed the location of the device or turned off the vibrations noted a reduction in symptoms. Change was also felt in situations where users swapped their phone with a different model.

For better management of symptoms users are also advised the following:

  • Be aware that phantom vibrations are a common phenomenon.
  • Taking the phone out of your pocket and putting it onto the table.
  • If you can’t turn it off completely, then make changes for notifications, and reduce the situations in which vibrations are used to grab your attention.
  • Infrequent use of the phone, when it is not necessary.

If phantom vibrations are causing significant anxiety, consult a mental health professional.

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