Phone notifications have a negative effect on your mood

Alerts including emojis have the opposite effect, making users feel happier

A large proportion of mobile phone notifications have a negative impact on your mood according to research by Nottingham Trent University.

Researchers investigated the effect half a million notifications had on smartphone users and discovered that a third of those received made the subjects feel hostile, upset, nervous, afraid or ashamed.

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Researcher Dr Eiman Kanjo said the group wanted to look into the way people interact with the notifications on their phone and how they impact mood. She explained that notifications, such as new emails, social media interactions, calendar pop ups and more can really distract a person's thinking.

However, it's the notifications related to Wi-Fi and the general working of a phone that had the biggest impact on someone's mood, while work-related alerts ranked second when measuring negative moods.

"These digital alerts continuously disrupt our activities through instant calls for attention. While notifications enhance the convenience of our life, we need to better-understand the impact their obsessive use has on our wellbeing," she said. "It is clear that social notifications make people happy, but when they receive lots of work-related and or non-human notifications, the opposite effect occurs."

On the opposite end of the scale, the researchers discovered that notifications with emojis included were more likely to lift a person's mood.

"The finding in relation to emoji characters was particularly interesting. Emojis may seem trivial, but they are becoming the world's fastest growing language in all forms of communications. Compared to text, this richer set of representations of facial expressions may help to improve reader comprehension of the emotional message content." 

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To measure the responses to smartphone notifications, Nottingham Trent University developed the NotiMind app, which collected information about the notifications and required the user to record their mood when receiving the alert.

"Although notifications serve an important purpose for smartphone users, the number of apps which compete for attention has grown significantly over the years. People often respond quickly, if not immediately to notifications, making them particularly disruptive," researcher Dr Daria Kuss, a psychologist in Nottingham Trent University's International Gaming Research Unit said. 

"Our findings could open the door to a wide range of applications in relation to emotion awareness on social and mobile communication."

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