Constant mobile phone notifications can reduce your attention span and cause ADHD

Mobile phone notifications may cause ADHD-symptoms
Mobile phone notifications may cause ADHD-symptoms

Constant mobile phone notifications are not just nagging, a new study has shown that they can also reduce your attention span and trigger ADHD-like symptoms.

This trait has been observed for a long time among teenagers who are constantly fiddling with their mobile phones, constantly checking messages and posting updates on instant messaging services.

But now a study by the researchers of University of Virginia has established that these are not mere stereotypes: constantly checking your mobile phone notifications can actually cause ADHD-like symptoms.

During the study, 221 college students were observed while they used their mobile phones, over a period of two weeks. Later, the study was presented at the Human-Computer Interaction conference in California.

The study found that when the notifications in the students’ mobile phones were turned on – the mobile phone rings or vibrates – there were more symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity.

According to the lead author of the study, Kostadin Kushlev, “We found the first experimental evidence that smartphone interruptions can cause greater inattention and hyperactivity – symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – even in people drawn from a nonclinical population.”

When the students had their notifications turned on, they showed the signs of ADHD even when they hadn’t been diagnosed with the disorder. These symptoms include distraction, difficulty focusing, having trouble sitting still and restlessness.

Have you read the book The Shallows by Nicholas Carr? The book more or less talks about the same problem. Nicholas Carr says that we are in a constant state of distraction when we are consuming digital content. For example, when we’re reading an article through a browser, even when we don’t consciously realise, our mind is constantly absorbing other pieces of information like blinking graphics, hyperlinks and even still images.

So whether you have ADHD or not, not being able to focus due to perpetual notifications is something that we need to learn to deal with. I have turned off almost all notifications on my mobile phone.

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About Amrit Hallan
Amrit Hallan is the founder of He writes about technology not because "he loves to write about technology", he actually believes that it makes the world a better place. On Twitter you can follow him at @amrithallan

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