One-third of the smartphone notifications users receive during the day are making them feel upset, nervous, hostile, afraid or ashamed, British researchers have found. Most people think they couldn’t live without their smartphones, but they might try to reduce the amount of time they spend watching the screen if they realize what a source of lousy mood it is.

Today’s smartphone platforms display all digital alerts in the notification bar found at the top of the screen. These notifications inform users about new activity on their social media networks, the arrival of text messages or emails, status updates, among other events.

App publishers and advertisers take advantage of the user interface to connect with them and make them spend more time on their applications.

Bad mood linked to smartphone notifications
Teenagers using their smartphones simultaneously. Image Source: Huffington Post

An exclusive app was used to identify the effects of alerts on users’ emotions

A team of researchers at Nottingham Trent University was interested in the effects of the digital alerts on people’s emotions due to the increase in the mobile apps that fight for the users’ attention. These apps disrupt their daily activities with thousands of notifications, as noted by researcher Dr. Daria Kuss, a psychologist in Nottingham Trent University’s International Gaming Research Unit.

To discover the impact of smartphone notifications on user’s mood, the study authors involved 50 participants who received more than half a million warnings over a five-week period. The paper is titled NotiMind: Utilizing Responses to Smart Phone Notifications as Affective Sensors.

The participants were asked to download an app called NotiMind and use it during the research. The social and system notifications collected by the users’ smartphones were correlated with affect data obtained three times a day via self-reported PANAS tests. People often reacted quickly to all the alerts, which suggests how disrupting this interaction can be.

A large number of Post and Remove notifications resulted in increased negative emotions. The researchers concluded that users’ interactions with notifications could help predict when they are experiencing a positive, neutral or negative mood.

One thid of smartphone notifications cause your lousy mood
Image Credit: The Verge

The highest rates of lousy mood were produced by general phone updates, and WiFi availability, among other non-human activities. Notifications related to work also led to negative emotions, notably when they appeared in bulk.

“While notifications enhance the convenience of our life, we need to better-understand the impact their obsessive use has on our well-being,” said researcher Dr. Eiman Kanjo, as quoted by The Telegraph.

Notifications that did improve the users’ mood were those related to friends. The higher the number of this kind of alerts arrived at once, the better people felt. That made them think that they belonged and connected to a social group, the paper says.

The researchers, whose work was published in the journal IEEE Access, believe these findings can be used to personalize digital alerts based on the users’ current emotions. For example, the smartphone can be set to display fewer system notifications when its owner is feeling down or more social alerts to improve their mood.

It is clear that the obsessive use of smartphones can have a negative impact on mental health and well-being. Further research will be conducted to better understand and identify problematic interactions with digital alerts and smartphone addiction.

Source: The Telegraph