Many of us can admit that our lives are ruled — at least a little — by our phones. We've "phubbed" our significant others, chosen our phones' blue light over a good night's rest, and even been tempted to sneak a peek at a text while driving. But how can we tell when our phone obsession has gone too far?
According to a January 2017 study published in Computers in Human Behavior, there's one major giveaway of cell phone dependency: How often you experience phantom phone alerts, aka the phenomenon where you think you feel your phone buzzing... but it's not.
Researchers from the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research asked 766 participants to fill out questionnaires assessing various personality characteristics, including openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. They were also asked to record if and how often they experienced phantom ringing, vibrating, or notifications from their phones and fill out a survey called the Mobile Phone Problem Use Scale, which included questions about how using their phones (and being forced to not use their phones) made them feel.
After analyzing all that data, the researchers found that participants who ranked high in neuroticism and felt anxious when they were away from their phones (a symptom of cell phone dependency) were more likely to experience phantom phone alerts. Interestingly enough, women were more like to have a cell phone dependency, as well.
The study had its limitations, of course: The participants were all college students, for one, and all of the data used was self-reported. But the researchers behind the study believe their findings support the argument that phone addiction is a real problem.
"When people have addictions, there's a phenomenon in which they are hypersensitive to stimuli associated with a rewarding stimulus," said Daniel Kruger, PhD, lead author and researcher at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, in a statement. "This study provides some real insight and maybe some evidence that people can have a real dependency on cell phone use."
In the end, more research needs to be conducted on phone addiction. But in the meantime, if you think you feel your phone buzzing and it's not, you might want to try a little "conscious uncoupling" from your phone for a while.
[h/t The Huffington Post]