How bad are the consequences of smartphones? Every day we see the same scene, people staring at their smartphone everywhere and all the time. At home, in the restaurant,
We plan to concentrate deeply on a given task but thirty minutes later we find ourselves scrolling through photos on Instagram. There is no discussion, that smartphones have a positive side. They magically opened the door to nearly every information worldwide
The truth is nevertheless, that many people became addicted to their phone. Many cannot concentrate on a given task anymore. In order to gain back productivity, apps have been published which allow you to block any distracting and addicting app. Other people started to delete these distracting apps altogether. Then there are people – including myself – who are shutting down the phone completely to fully concentrate on a task.
The Mere Presence of One’s Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity
A recent study, however, shows that these practices are not enough. Even the presence of a smartphone can reduce our available cognitive capacity. Researchers from the University of Texas found out that the mere presence of a phone on the desk or in the room where you work – even when turned off – have a negative impact on self-control and cognitive processes. The study found that someone’s ability to hold and process data significantly improved if the smartphone was in another room while taking the test. Also, participants who kept the smartphone in their bag or in their jacket outperformed those who kept the phone on the desk. This significance was given even when the phone laying in the desk was turned off.
These latest research findings did even surprise me who is turning off the smartphone regularly to concentrate. It shows us once again the negative impacts smartphone can have on our health.
But there is also positive news. No matter how addicted a person was before – when the phone was placed in another room all persons performed equally well on cognitive tests.
Keep Your Phone out of Sight
No matter how addicted we are – to accomplish a task or to study efficiently we should all place our phone in a different room while doing so. When you need optimal attentional control and cognitive function keep your phone out of sight.
We shouldn’t limit the “keep-the-phone-on-distant” only when it comes to work or study. Keeping the phone away has positive effects on driving and socializing. However, these may already be obvious for most of us.
When you start working tomorrow try to put your phone away and tell me about your experience!
Adrian F. Ward, Kristen Duke, Ayelet Gneezy, and Maarten W. Bos, “Brain Drain: The Mere Presence of One’s Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity,” Journal of the Association for Consumer Research 2, no. 2 (April 2017): 140-154.