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Why are smartphones disruptive? An empirical study of smartphone use in real-life contexts

Heitmayer, Maxi and Lahlou, Saadi ORCID: 0000-0001-8114-7271 (2021) Why are smartphones disruptive? An empirical study of smartphone use in real-life contexts. Computers in Human Behavior, 116. ISSN 0747-5632

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.chb.2020.106637


Notifications are one of the core functionalities of smartphones. Previous research suggests they can be a major disruption to the professional and private lives of users. This paper presents evidence from a mixed-methods study using first-person wearable video cameras, comprising 200 h of audio-visual first-person, and self-confrontation interview footage with 1130 unique smartphone interactions (N = 37 users), to situate and analyse the disruptiveness of notifications in real-world contexts. We show how smartphone interactions are driven by a complex set of routines and habits users develop over time. We furthermore observe that while the duration of interactions varies, the intervals between interactions remain largely invariant across different activity and location contexts, and for being alone or in the company of others. Importantly, we find that 89% of smartphone interactions are initiated by users, not by notifications. Overall this suggests that the disruptiveness of smartphones is rooted within learned user behaviours, not devices.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 Elsevier Ltd
Divisions: Psychological and Behavioural Science
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2020 15:30
Last Modified: 21 Nov 2021 01:06

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