Thursday, 18 February 2016 11:55

Heart rates rise, stress increased through smartphone use


Smartphones are everywhere, everyone has one and most users can’t do without their mobile – but, it seems, some uses of the phones are stressful and evoke unwanted emotional responses.

Ericsson has just released a report – using neuroscience technology to objectively measure emotional responses to varied smartphone experiences – and revealing that streaming delays are “mentally taxing” for smartphone users.

In another finding, loading web pages and videos under time pressure caused mobile users' heart rates to rise an average of 38%, while six-second delays to video streaming caused stress levels to increase by a third.

Ericsson says that, in context, the stress incurred is equivalent to the anxiety of taking a math test or watching a horror movie alone, and greater than the stress experienced by “standing at the edge of a virtual cliff”.  What’s more, once a video begins, an additional pause can cause stress levels to increase dramatically.

Conversely, the study reveals that a “delay-free experience”  triggers a positive emotional response and increases brand engagement for mobile operators.

Launched on Wednesday, the Mobile World Congress edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report reveals the impact of different levels of network performance on smartphone users and their perceptions of mobile operators and digital content providers.

In the study, the Net Promoter Score (NPS) of an operator increased significantly when associated with a delay-free experience - by 4.5 points, and Ericsson saysthis finding was also reflected when measuring emotional engagement using a neuroscience-based motivational index.

“However, the operator's NPS dropped on average four points with moderate time-to-content and re-buffering delays. Interestingly, moderate delays result in a double negative for mobile operators: decreased engagement with their brand and increased engagement with competitors,” Ericsson notes.

Other highlights from the Ericsson Mobility Report include:

•    Social networking is second only to video for driving mobile traffic growth. Over the next six years total social networking traffic will be around 12 times that of the previous six years

•    68 million mobile subscriptions added in Q4 2015, India added the most (21 million), followed by China (6 million), the US (5 million), Myanmar (5 million) and Nigeria (3 million)

•    Total number of mobile subscriptions in Q4 2015 reached 100%  penetration at around 7.3 billion - the same number of mobile subscriptions as people in the world

•    Global mobile data traffic grew 65% between Q4 2014 and Q4 2015

•    There are now one billion LTE subscriptions worldwide, with approximately 160 million additions in Q4 2015

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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