Skip to content

Personal Technology Resource Center


Smartphone Notifications Prove Distracting for Boomers

Pings make some forget tasks, lose sleep or miss sports plays, a survey finds

Woman in bed using smartphone

PhotoAlto / Alamy Stock Photo

All those notifications that pop up on smartphones can prove incredibly distracting for boomer users.

Those text messages and news alerts that pop up continually on many smartphones are a major distraction for many boomers, a new survey has found. 

Most boomers (55 percent) say they check any notification within a minute of receiving it, according to the survey of 1,000 adults in six U.S. cities conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of mobile provider Xfinity Mobile.

Nearly a third (31 percent) say that they often pick up their smartphones only to forget what they intended to do because they’re distracted by notifications. And 24 percent say they can’t fall asleep at night knowing that they have notifications still waiting unread. 

Twenty-four percent of boomers say they’ve missed a major plot point on a movie or TV show because of notifications, and 20 percent say they’ve missed a question from their significant other. Ten percent admit to miss seeing a big play at a sports event because they were reading a notice. 

One reason for the onslaught of notifications may be that 41 percent of boomers have more than five apps on their smartphones that they never use. Thirty-four percent admit that they frequently have trouble finding the apps they do use because of all the clutter.

Boomers “are facing challenges with disorganized phones and bad mobile behaviors, just like younger Americans,” Petey McKnight, vice president of marketing for Xfinity Mobile, said via email. 

The company's website offers “The Phone Cleanse,” a seven-day program designed to eliminate unneeded apps, reduce distractions from notifications and get better control over mobile phone use.