Being near your smartphone makes you stupider, study finds
We all knew that we’ve been slowly nurturing an addiction to our smartphones, but researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have further concluded that simply being in close proximity to our phones is having adverse effects on our cognitive abilities. Using a sample size of nearly 800 phone users, the study examined "the brain's ability to hold and process data at any given time."
Subjects were selected at random to either place their phone face down in front of them, inside their pocket, or in another room – all of which were instructed to put their devices on silent. Researchers then administered a series of computer-based tests which measured attentiveness, memory, and problem-solving skills.
According to the study, “comparisons revealed that participants in the ‘other room’ condition found it significantly easier to remember information in [these tasks] relative to participants in the ‘desk’ condition and marginally easier relative to those in the ‘pocket/bag’ condition.” The data also points out that, though the difference in ability is apparent, the perceived difficulty of these tasks remained the same for all groups – in other words, participants in the “desk condition” were unaware of the detriment the phone’s presence had evidently caused them.
In essence, the addiction to our phones has become so embedded that, even unconsciously, our brains must fight to avoid thinking about them or checking them for notifications.
Thankfully, the study reports that we’re not necessarily all hopelessly addicted or cognitively compromised. Subjects were also asked a series of exploratory questions “intended to assess individual differences in use of and connection to one’s smartphone.” The findings show that the observed decline in cognitive ability was directly related to an individual’s pre-existing, (relatively) higher observed level of emotional attachment and dependence on the device. How the scale between attachment and indifference is measured proves tougher to specify than this pre-experiment survey endeavored to establish, however one thing seems to ring true: out of sight, out of mind.
Check the source link below for the full study from the University of Texas at Austin.