Surprising as it may sound modern mobile apps can not only influence the actions but can even change human behavior. Now, without going into the debate on whether using mobile apps are good or bad, focus on the fact that it really does change human behaviour. If you are not convinced then spare ten minutes to notice your behavior yourself.
- How many times did you pick up the phone in these ten minutes just to check whether or not you have received any mails or any alert notification? Be honest with yourself. A number of times!
- Now, pick up your phone and look for the mobile apps that may have sent you a few notifications. Also try to recollect all those apps that you were expecting a notification from but did not receive in the end. Once again, there will be quite a lot of it!
Now, what were you looking for all these minutes? Well, there can be many things such as:
- It may be that you were wondering whether or not someone texted you back to a message you sent to that person 11 minutes before (remember, ten minutes were your testing time)
- It may be the meme that you shared or
- It may be the comment you were expecting from anyone who viewed the latest photo you uploaded on Instagram.
Possibilities are galore according to Statista and with the number of smartphone users expected to reach 4.77 million all over the world pretty soon you will need a moment to let this fact, alarming as it is, to sink in you.
Such a vast proliferation of the smartphones being used in almost every niche of the world and by people from all walks of life, it is not surprising that you will continue to get messages and snaps through different mobile apps such as WhatsApp, SnapChat and thousand others.
Looking deeper into it
Well, it is a great feeling to remain connected with your family and all of your friends almost all the time. However, the thing that you do not notice is that you cannot literally live without all those apps.
- All these apps acts just like digital sugar to your brain keeping you hooked to it everyday, every hour, every moment, except when you are asleep, if not in your dreams, that is.
- You must admit that fact that everyone, even you, have some degree of affinity if not addiction towards these apps like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and others.
- No matter how hard you try to quit this habit of using these addictive social media apps, you will hardly be able to stay away from it more than a week, that too pushing thing to the extreme limits, wen you will find that you are back on it.
None of this should be taken lightly as these are not accidental. For the sake of context, a look at the study reports on Instagram will help you to understand how additive these apps are before you know how this can change human behavior. Here is a breakdown of the active monthly users of this most popular app and the time it took to add each 100 million active users.
Since it was launched exclusively for iOS on 6th October 2010, it had 700 million monthly active users as on April 2017. It is no small a number considering that it is not even seven years. 78 months to be precise!
- October 6, 2010: Instagram launched
- February 26, 2013: First 100 million in 28 months
- March 25, 2014: Took only 13 months for the next 100 million
- December 10, 2014: Just 9 months for the next 300 hundred till June 21, 2016
- December 15, 2016: As low as 6 months to reach 600 million and in
- April 26, 2017: Just 4 months to reach 700 million!
Looking at the difference in time, you may think why it took 28 months initially and just 4 months in the end. This is because there were only 4.01 billion smartphone users all over the world in that year.
The fact that the number of smart phone users increased and the availability of more and more mobile apps, it took just 4 months in 2017 to get another 100 million active users.
The human behavior aspect
The mobile apps believe it or not, ensure an emotional connection and this result in the change in the human behaviour. The mobile app developers take cue from this fact and design the apps including much more than functional UX and pretty visuals to ensure that the users constantly come back for more whether it is for checking their mail or for reading the debt settlement reviews using different apps.
Persuasive Technology is what the designers follow while designing such addictive products with intent to change human behavior for the better. In order to make sure that it is not disorienting for the users or the techniques are over-hyped or are jumbled by unreasonable theories they follow a step by step process.
Behaviour change needs a behaviour model that will put the right triggers at the right place to allure even the highly motivated users. It is this motivation that forces the person to perform a particular action.
In order to make this work perfectly, the developers use three specific elements in their app designing process namely motivation, ability and trigger. This helps them to persuade the users to do something regularly that will eventually change their behavior.
All these triggers, just like sugar addiction, are tied to the internal as well as external triggers in the human brain. When the external trigger starts to work, the internal triggers manifest automatically in the minds of the users creating a brass ring of consumer technology.
In short, it can be said that the external triggers and the internal triggers working in unison eventually hijacks the rewarding system of the brain releasing more dopamine in the brainmaking it want for more of it. You have changed and are hooked, pal!
Author – Marina Thomas