Why Our Brains Love Notifications

If teenagers are obsessed with at least one thing these days, it’s getting new notifications on social media sites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram. This is especially true when the notifications you are receiving come from someone you love. Notifications effect us emotionally by heightening our self-worth. They let us know that someone is listening to us and actually cares about what we have to say. Personally, I like getting notified when a friend has liked one of my posts. But, I love when that notification is coming from my partner! Why? Because they’re my favorite notification. Overall, notifications on social networks are basically the other half of a conversation that we have with a large group of people – our friends and loved ones. Your post puts an idea out there, and someone (usually a friend or family member) responds to it. You post a photo from your vacation; someone comments on it. You write a new status update; someone likes it. Being ignored in a real life conversation sucks, and being ignored online sucks just the same. But, no matter who reacts to what we have posted to our social media timeline, anyone in a relationship probably has that one special person whom they love getting new notifications from, just like me! That someone who will make you smile a little bigger or blush a little harder when you see the red (1) from them.

new notifications on social media

We all crave the validation that comes from someone liking a photo on Facebook or messaging us on Twitter. In fact, one consumer study showed that 62% of adults felt better about themselves after getting positive reactions to something they shared on social media. Seeing someone else like (or agree) with what we have to say gives our brain a huge rush of dopamine which keeps us want to share more. It doesn’t take a math genius to realize that 62% is a pretty big number. Still, new notifications don’t always indicate that someone is agreeing with you. All they indicate is an answer. Notifications can actually represent a very wide range of responses – and then within that response – a wide range of emotions. What if the notification is something negative? Do you think it’s worse to get a negative response, or no response at all when posting something online? Naturally, we all just want to be recognized and feel worthwhile. Believe it or not, a negative response can create similar opportunities for seeking that recognition. Negative responses may seem worse to some people, but that’s usually because it’s a valid complaint.

Every notification we receive online presents us with a new opportunity to interact with people. They could be friends, family and even complete strangers that live on the other side of the world. So every time we see that little (1) popup, we get a hit of dopamine, which recharges our addictive compulsion to both social media and our cell phones. You think it feels exciting with (1) notification? Try letting them pile up to (10) and see what it’s like. Your life will change!