While our lives are becoming almost impossible without smartphones, it has always been debated as to how their use could affect your health. Now to add to the growing list, a recent study has found that you are likely to suffer
from smartphone interruptions. The stereotypes about smartphone addicts being attention deficit might not be inaccurate anymore. Apparently, smartphone notifications do cause ADHD-like symptoms.
‘Smartphone notifications serve as a source of distraction and contribute to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder-like symptoms such as fidgeting, restlessness and poor concentration.’
The research scientists from the University of Virginia and The University of British Columbia have sought to understand how the constant inflow of smartphone notifications can influence people's minds. The lead scientist Kostadin Kushlev along with his colleagues Jason Prolux and W. Dunn conducted a two-week long experimental study which is reportedly the first ever evidence to support this fact. The findings were presented at The Human-Computer Interaction conference held in San Jose, California.
During the first week of the study, 221 students at the
University of British Columbia, Canada were drawn from the rest and assigned
for a week to maximize their phone interruptions by turning the notification
alerts on and keeping their phones within easy reach. And during the second
week, the students were asked to minimize their smartphone's interruptions by
turning off their notification alerts. They were also asked to keep their
phones out of easy reach.Towards the end of each week, the students were asked
to answer a questionnaire which assesses inattention and hyperactivity when
smartphone alerts were switched on.
The scientists observed that the participants who had notification alerts on with their smartphones on "Loud" or "Vibrate" mode showed more symptoms of hyperactivity and inattention. The results suggest that people might experience attention deficit hyperactivity disorder-like symptoms such as getting distracted, fidgeting, restlessness, difficulty in performing quiet activities and tasks, difficulty in concentrating and getting bored easily when trying to concentrate. By serving as an immediate source of distraction, smartphones could be contributing to these symptoms.
Constant Digital Stimulation by Smartphone Notifications:
The study has revealed that
the culprit behind the increasing deficit of attention is the overstimulation
by smartphones. The results suggest that even amongst those who have not been
diagnosed with ADHD previously, the symptoms might occur due to this constant
However, the lead author has pointed out that ADHD
is a complex neuro-developmental disorder which does not occur simply as a result of smartphone addiction. The study suggests that neither smartphones cause ADHD nor does reducing smartphone notifications treat ADHD. But, the key findings suggest that constant digital stimulation might be a contributing factor to ADHD-like symptoms.
Here's how you can reduce
the negative effects of the digital stimulation:
Similar Studies Based on Smartphone Addiction:
- Stop being on the look
out for your smartphone to ring or beep a notification
- Switch to silent mode
so that you do not pay attention to notification alerts.
- Keep your smartphones
out of sight and out of easy reach.
In 2014, a study
conducted by the Third Military Medical University, China revealed that there
is a strong association
between mobile phone
usage and inattention. In another study conducted by UCL researchers in the
year 2015, it was revealed that smartphone use can contribute to inattention
deafness where the users experience temporary deafness as they tend to
concentrate on their phones instead of their surroundings.