A new study published by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) has found that smartphone addiction is unlikely to be driven by notifications. The study analysed the behaviours of 37 individuals in England and Europe, with an average age of 25. It found that 89% of the time, individuals interacted with their phones without any prompting from alerts or notifications.
Scrolling features on apps such as Facebook and Instagram triggered the longest interactions. The study said that they believe people checking their phones is caused by “an urge of the user to interact with their phone that seems to occur in an almost automatic manner, just as a smoker would light a cigarette”.
A breakdown of the data collected in the study showed that, on average, participants used social media apps 29% of the time and checked their lock screen for notifications 17% of the time. Calls only accounted for 1% of smartphone use during the study.
Many participants said that they were shocked by the results of the study. One participant said that seeing the figures had “made me realise that I don’t even remember picking it up. I think I use it a lot more than I let myself believe.”
Learning to avoid temptation
This discovery has caused people to warn that we must learn to avoid the temptation of constantly checking our phones. Smartphone addiction is a growing concern, especially amongst younger individuals.
Professor Saadi Lahou, Chair of Psychology at LSE said, “This is a serious issue, especially for children, and we are running into the dark without having fully understood how these devices are changing our way of living. We must learn tricks to avoid the temptation when we want to concentrate or have good social relations. To do like the cowboys did with their gun when they entered saloons: leave it outside! Or at least shut it down. Very important and urgent things are rare. Most things can wait a few hours – you are not going to miss out much anyway.”