Clippings #45: Smartphones and Brains
We are addicted to smartphones and any challenge to that addiction is likely to be ignored. Smartphones render many services, enable many connections and open many gates. However, like many good things, this ubiquitous technology can be misused. An article in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research points out some dangers.
“Cognitive capacity and overall brain power are significantly reduced when your smartphone is within glancing distance — even if it’s turned off and face down — according to a recent study.” Given the research that typical smartphone users interact with their phones an average of 85 times-a-day, the impact could be significant.
“Research participants who had been identified as extremely dependent on their smartphones performed much worse on cognitive tests than their less-dependent peers if they kept their smartphones on the desk, in their pocket, or in a bag.” Other research proposes the benefit of “smartphone-distancing behaviors.”
We need our brains to operate at optimum power to boost the use of our intelligence, to engage in meaningful dialog (this calls for face-to-face exchanges that require more than 120 characters or the limits of texting) and some distances from those compelling custom sounds in order to reflect and even meditate about our identities and missions in these complex lives of ours. Are we up to that?
 Adrian F. Ward, Kristen Duke, Ayelet Gneezy, Maarten W. Bos. Brain Drain: The Mere Presence of One’s Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity. Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, 2017; 2 (2): 140