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Attachment To Cellphones Can Lead To 'Phantom Vibration Syndrome'

By Kathy Walsh

DENVER (CBS4) - Do you think your mobile phone is ringing or vibrating when it's not? That's called "phantom vibration syndrome."

A study of students by Robert Rosenberger, PhD. at the Georgia Institute of Technology found 90 percent of them said they felt the phantom phone sensations.

"Because we're so in touch with our cellphones now. We're cyborgs, practically. They're parts of us," a woman eating lunch at Metropolitan State University of Denver told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

"It's almost like a hallucination," said Randi Smith, LCSW, PhD. and associate professor of psychology at MSU Denver.

Randi Smith
Randi Smith, LCSW, PhD. and associate professor of psychology at MSU Denver is interviewed by CBS4's Kathy Walsh)

"There's a fear that we're going to miss a text, somebody is trying to reach us and we're not being responsive," said Smith.

She says new media and messages are exciting and rewarding. For some, they are an obsession.

"I think it's a little scary how dependent most of us have become on our devices," said Smith.

generic cellphone
(credit: CBS)

Smith said, sometimes, she suggests students take a media fast.

"They'll typically report back, 'I couldn't go an hour,'" Smith said.

Phantom vibration syndrome isn't physically painful. But some believe it's a warning that too much technology may be hazardous to human interaction. Smith says our attachment to devices becomes a serious problem when it keeps us from engaging with other people in the here and now.

Kathy Walsh is CBS4's Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.

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