Your Smartphone is Making You Dumber

I’m guilty – my phone is attached to my hip more than anyone. Up until recently, I didn’t realize how much it actually might be affecting my brainpower.

Smartphones are making us lazier and distracted. I know… I know… it’s harsh. But just think about it!

If you want an answer to a question, you don’t have to work too hard to find it. You just grab your phone (which I’m guessing is right next to your hand anyway), and Google it. You don’t even have to type, just ask Siri.

And when you’re in the middle of working, it’s either constantly going off with alerts – or you’re conscious of the fact that one might be seconds away.

It’s that level of attachment that’s affecting your ability to focus and use your brain to its fullest extent.

I’m going to challenge myself to leave my phone in another room for important meetings this month, and here’s why you should join me:

A recent study from the University of Texas at Austin suggests that the smartphone brain drain is even worse than we thought! Here’s what they did. They split 800 smartphone users into three groups to see how well they could complete cognitive tasks on a computer.

Each of the three groups had a different placement for their smartphone while they completed these tasks:
1. The first group had their phones face down on the desk.
2. The second group had their phone near them but not visible such as in their bag or pocket.
3. The third group had to leave their phone in another room.

As you would suspect, the group that had their phones face down on the desk performed the worst on the cognitive tests and the group that left their phones in another room significantly outperformed them. The most interesting finding is that the group that had their phones near them in a bag or pocket also had a reduction in their ability to perform the cognitive tests.

What this suggests is that the mere presence of your smartphone can cause your cognitive capacity to decrease.

“Your conscious mind isn’t thinking about your smartphone,” says Professor Adrian Ward, “but that process – the process of requiring yourself to not think about something – uses up some of your limited cognitive resources. It’s a brain drain.”

The next time you need to really utilize the full capacity of your brain power, make the conscious decision to leave your phone in another room. Without all of your notifications going off – just think about what you can accomplish!

Jane Olvera Quebe, President