I like Instagram, missed calls, unread emails: pings from text messages, apps and even work communications wreak havoc on our minds.
Although the addictive dopamine hit of online validation may seem exhilarating in the moment, experts warn that incessant notifications can lead to poor mental health.
“The line between work and play no longer exists,” Deborach Serani, a professor at Adelphi University and author of “Living with Depression,” told Yahoo Life. “And the ability to reach and get things in seconds interrupts the development of patience and endurance skills.”
Adults spend about half their lives looking at screens, reports estimate, and the average American checks their phone about 144 times a day.
“In today’s era, we receive pings from multiple places, including phone calls, text messages and direct messages from various apps and social media platforms,” said Dr. Jacques Ambrose, neurointerventional psychiatrist and senior medical director in New York. -Presbyterian Medical Center/Columbia University Irvine.
Constant notifications, Ambrose explained, can trigger the body’s stress response and release cortisol, the stress hormone.
In fact, perpetual pinging of apps and messages can result in imaginary notifications — like a phantom vibration in your pocket — a symptom of “anxiety,” Serani said.
Ironically, these pesky notifications can also stimulate the brain’s reward system and have subsequently conditioned users to feel excited when their phone rings due to a surge of dopamine, even if the text or tweet is dull.
“Research suggests that dopamine levels in the brain may be twice as high when you anticipate the reward than when you actually receive it,” Serani said.
“In other words, just hearing the notification may be nicer than the text, email, or tweet.”
Some estimates place an average of around 50 push notifications per day, while a recent study found that teens are disproportionately obsessed with screens, with a daily estimate of 237 notifications and as many as 5,000 over a 24-year period. hours.
Before the smartphone was conceived, there were landlines – now an archaic means of communication – and while the average person might be interrupted by a call, instant communication was not easily accessible at the fingertips.
Then came inventions like the iPhone – “an iPod, a phone and an Internet communicator” all in “one device,” Apple founder Steve Jobs once said – which revolutionized the way people connect.
Now the constant buzz is commonplace.
So the addictive nature of the Internet forces us to stay connected and tuned in lest we suffer from withdrawals – or, FOMO, the fear of missing out. Apparently we can’t live with it, nor can we live without it.
But even just temporarily unplugging can provide some mental relief, experts say.
Limiting work-related messaging to work hours, or even using separate devices entirely, can keep work from coming home, and vice versa, Ambrose suggested.
Setting phones to “Do Not Disturb” can also provide better concentration for those who are particularly distracted by their phone screens lit up with messages.
Turning off devices during meals and before bed can allow for relaxation, Serani recommended, as can putting them away to reduce ease of access — out of sight, out of mind.
Deleting unused apps, doing a tech cleanup, and being less accessible to others can help users live “in the moment.”
Some screen-obsessed users have introduced website blocking apps that limit notifications or lock sites entirely for a set period of time, helping easily distracted people focus.
“I think it’s incredibly difficult, through willpower alone, to have a smartphone and not waste a lot of time on it,” London-based author and lawyer Susie Alegre, who uses the Freedom app.
The trend has slowly gained traction as #MonkMode online, as internet users participate in a technological detox, which experts see as a symptom of technological development.
“We’re going to see exponential growth in apps competing for your attention,” said Vladimir Druts, co-founder of FocusMe. “Monk Mode is definitely going to get bigger.”