Over one third of the notifications on smartphones worsen our moods, triggering us to feel hostile, upset, nervous, afraid or ashamed, a study has found.
Researchers at the Nottingham Trent University in the UK studied the effect on mood in 50 participants who received thousands of digital alerts over a five-week period. Out of more than half a million notifications, they found that 32 per cent resulted in negative emotions.
Notifications relating to non-human activity – such as general phone updates and wifi availability – had the worst impact on phone users’ mood, researchers found.
Work-related notifications also had a negative impact on mood, particularly when they arrived in bulk.
However, people enjoyed messages from friends, particularly several at once, which created a sense of belonging and feelings of connection to a social group.
“These digital alerts continuously disrupt our activities through instant calls for attention,” Eiman Kanjo, researcher at Nottingham Trent University, was quoted as saying by ‘The Telegraph’.
“While notifications enhance the convenience of our life, we need to better-understand the impact their obsessive use has on our well-being,” Kanjo said.
For the study, published in the journal IEEE Access, researchers developed an app called NotiMind, which participants downloaded.
The app collected details relating to the phone’s digital notifications, as well as participants’ self-reported moods at various points in the day over a five-week period.
In the future, the app could be used to personalise notifications, so that fewer system notifications are sent when someone is feeling down, researchers said.