Is All That Technology Just A Big Headache? Yes (Literally)
October 31, 2013 by Ben Bullard
As ever more-sophisticated smart phones, tablets and portable computers continue their creep into everyday life, people who grudgingly cave in to buy an iPhone or Android device can often find the learning curve to be a major pain. But reports suggest that those headaches your cell phones are giving you may be very real.
A recent series of studies has documented everything from mild nausea after viewing animations on tiny phone screens to headaches from focusing on the artificially-deep viewing plane created by advanced operating system layouts.
Apple’s newest iPhone operating system, iOS7, has even prompted some developers to come up with workaround apps to alleviate users’ headache and vertigo complaints from staring at the interface’s brightly-colored graphics and zooming, fluid animations.
But if the headaches aren’t getting to you, the strange sensation of feeling your phone vibrate when it’s not anywhere near you might. A professor at Indiana University-Purdue University in Ft. Wayne, Ind. found that 89 percent of her tech-savvy students had experienced so-called “phantom pocket vibration syndrome,” a phenomenon during which a person perceives that the cell phone is vibrating in their pocket – even though the phone is somewhere else.
That condition is supposedly caused by the way in which the brain becomes conditioned to repetitive and anticipated physical stimuli.
“I think that these two phenomena, [Fear of Missing Out] and phantom vibration syndrome, both capture the same prevailing issue,” wrote psychology professor Larry Rosen earlier this year. “We are now so primed with anxiety about our electronic world (and particularly that which involves communicating such as text messages and social media) that we misinterpret a simple signal from our neurons located below our pocket as an incoming message rather than an itch that needs to be scratched. As we are finding out, it really seems to be all about anxiety that builds up when we are not allowed to check in with our social media which young people appear to check extremely often.”