A study conducted by researchers at the London School of Economics looked at the behavior of smartphone users, and it showed a striking trend: 89% of interactions with the mobile phone are initiated by the user, not by the notifications it receives.
The study was conducted with 37 participants in France, the UK and Germany with an average age of 25 years. To obtain the data, the researchers loaned each of them a small camera to film their daily lives in the first person. They had to check in for five hours for three days and turn off the camera whenever they wanted. In total, the researchers were able to analyze almost 200 hours of video and 1130 interactions with a smartphone. The results of their research have been published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.
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They were able to calculate that the average time between each interaction is approximately 291 seconds, or a little less than 5 minutes. The average duration of these interactions is 64 seconds, while more than half are less than 23 seconds. They also found that the interactions after a notification were much shorter than those initiated by the user himself. And contrary to what you might think, 89% of interactions were initiated by the latter, while only 11% resulted from a notification.
“The disruption caused by smartphones is not primarily due to external notifications, but rather to a user’s urge to interact with their phone, which occurs almost automatically, just like a smoker would light a cigarette,” the study authors write. This behavior is so common that some don’t even remember checking their mobile screen.
Notifications aren’t the problem
Most of the time (52%), users go to WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook and Messenger, while 17% of the time they briefly check their smartphone’s locked screen to see if they have received a notification. . Calls made up only 1% of these interactions, music 3% and emails 6%.
Finally, the researchers put their finger on the element that causes users to stay on their screen: scrolling in applications like Instagram or Facebook. Notifications aren’t at the heart of the matter, they said: “The vast majority of smartphone interactions are the result of automatic and habitual interference, which means we need to approach the problem differently.” They hope that their work can be taken into account to change user behavior, as well as the design of applications and phones.