Phantom vibrations is a phenomenon in which a person believes their mobile phone is ringing or vibrating against their body when the device isn’t actually ringing or vibrating. Also referred to as phantom vibration syndrome or phantom vibration sensations, phantom vibrations and phantom ringing have become quite common in the mobile age with the proliferation of mobile phone use.
In one recent study (Science Direct) nearly 90% of undergraduates surveyed had experienced phantom vibrations at a rate of roughly once every two weeks on average. Also known colloquially by terms such as ringxiety or fauxcellarm, phantom vibration experiences can be disconcerting at times and even bothersome to a small minority of smartphone users, but they are not believed to pose any true health risks.
What Causes Phantom Vibration Sensations?
Phantom vibrations are believed to originate as part of the human brain’s ability to attempt to fill in gaps in order to find patterns. Phantom sensations can be triggered when receptors pick up enough physical and/or auditory signals similar to a cell phone’s vibrating or ringing alert and then prompt a learned association and the perception of a phone vibration or ringing.