"Cell Vibration Syndrome" Creates a Buzz

By Fionna Agomuoh 05/24/12

Feeling phantom cellphone vibrations is a common symptom of mobile device dependency.

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Vibrating? It might be in your head. Photo via

If you've ever felt that telltale buzz, but when you checked your cellphone there was no text or missed call, you may be on the cusp of a mobile addiction. According to psychology professor Larry Rosen from California State University, these imagined cellphone vibrations are actually a fairly common phenomenon. In his new book, iDisorder, Rosen says we live in an age where every oddity is soon classified as some kind of mental ailment, so it's not surprising that people's affinities for their cellphones have reached the level of addiction. "Interacting with our technology can make us display signs and symptoms of everything ranging from depression to mania to narcissism to voyeurism - you name it," says Rosen. Coining the term 'cellphone vibration syndrome,' Rosen believes the phenomenon is related to anxiety. "Our body is always in waiting to anticipate any kind of technological interaction, which usually comes from a smartphone," he says. "With that anticipatory anxiety, if we get any neurological stimulation, our pants rubbing against our leg for example, you might interpret that through the veil of anxiety, as 'Oh, my phone is vibrating." Rosen explains he's never met a person—particularly males as most men carry their phones in their pockets—that has not experienced a phantom cellphone vibration. He says phantom vibrations become a cause for concern when they begin to interfere with other parts of people lives: "Most of the people will report that what it does is it gets in the way of their social relationships, because they are constantly focusing on reducing the anxiety about what they're missing out on their phone."

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Fionna Agomuoh is a tech writer and product reviewer, as well as the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of TechieSupreme.com. Fionna previously worked at several media companies, including Newsweek Media Group and Business Insider. Find her on Linkedin or follow her on Twitter.