Obsessive smart phone users hear 'phantom vibrations' in desperation
SMARTPHONES are so addictive many users now hear "phantom vibrations" because they are desperate to receive new messages, a study has found.
Blackberries and iPhones are meant to help workers manage their workload by giving them access to messages and alerts while away from the office.
But people become so obsessive about checking their email accounts and social networking sites that they actually become more stressed as a result, researchers said.
Some are so hooked to their devices that they even begin to experience "phantom" vibrations where they mistakenly believe their phone is buzzing in their pocket, it was claimed.
The findings will be presented to the British Psychological Society’s Division of Occupational Psychology Conference in Chester today.
Researchers issued questionnaires and carried out psychometric stress tests on more than 100 volunteers including students and employees from a variety of professions including retail and the public sector.
Their results showed that people's use of smart phones was linked to their levels of stress, but their line of work was not.
Stress was directly linked to the number of times people checked their phones on average, and people with the most extreme levels of stress were troubled by "phantom" vibrations when no message had been received, the survey showed.
Researchers said that in most cases people had acquired smart phones to help them keep on top of their work.
But after they began using the devices, the benefits they brought to the user's workload were outweighed by a greater pressure for them to stay up to date with messages, emails and social networking sites.
This became a vicious cycle in which the more stressed people became, the more they compulsively felt the need to check their phone, the study showed.
Richard Balding of the University of Worcester, who led the research, said employers should seriously consider the burden that smart phones put on their workers.
He said: “Smart phone use is increasing at a rapid rate and we are likely to see an associated increase in stress from social networking.
"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, and reduce people’s temptation to check their devices.”