Mobile phone notifications can ruin your focus even if you do not actually pick up the phone to respond to them, a study says. “Although these notifications are generally short in duration, they can prompt task-irrelevant thoughts, or mind wandering, which has been shown to damage task performance,” lead study author Cary Stothart was quoted as saying.
“We found that notifications alone significantly disrupted performance on an attention-demanding task, even when participants did not directly interact with a mobile device during the task,” Stothart said. Study authors, Ainsley Mitchum, and Courtney Yehnert ran volunteers through an attention-monitoring test to reach their conclusions.
Participants were found to perform significantly worse on a task when their phones were buzzing or ringing. In fact, they were three times more likely to make mistakes. The level of distraction was comparable to actually answering a phone call or writing a text message.
“If you really want to keep your mind on a task, just ignoring your phone notifications is not enough. You need to disable them altogether,” the researchers said. An earlier study from Rice University found that phones can be detrimental to learning process. The research said while users initially believed the mobile devices would improve their ability to perform well with homework and tests and ultimately get better grades, the opposite was reported at the end of the study.