MUMBAI : Smartphones are now indispensable to modern life, with research revealing that people spend almost three to five hours a day on their phones and check their phone around 2,617 times a day.

This heavy usage, and especially the frequent and unpredictable notifications, take a toll on mental well-being and productivity. One simple solution could be to group notifications together and have them delivered at intervals through the day (a process called batching), suggests new research.

In the study, Nicholas Fitz and others conduct a two-week experiment to estimate the benefits of batching.

To do this, they employed a sample of 237 Indians through an online labour market and modified each participant’s notification system. Participants were divided into four groups receiving notifications in different forms.

One group received notifications in the status quo; another received batched notifications every hour; another received batched notifications thrice a day; and finally, the last group did not receive any notifications.

The researchers found that the third group who received notifications in three batches a day was the most productive, enjoyed the best mood and were the least stressed. Interestingly, those who did not receive notifications at all did not experience greater productivity and improved attention. According to the authors, this was because of the associated anxiety arising from the fear of missing out.

While this suggests that batching notifications at infrequent intervals can help maintain a balance of being notified and not being distracted, the authors argue that there are also wider implications of their results. The profits of technology firms such as YouTube and Facebook are based on increased screen time and user engagement, which they suggest, comes at the cost of well-being and productivity. They recommend regulations to promote a balance between profit-making and well-being of users.

Also read: Batching smartphone notifications can improve well-being

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