Smartphones hindering human’s mental capabilities

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Living in a world where technology plays such a key role in almost everything we do, it’s hard to imagine day-to-day life without the help of my trusty smartphone. It lets me surf the web, keep in touch with distant family and friends, and shoot e-mails almost effortlessly. I’m sure most people, including me, are on their smartphones more than they’re willing to admit.

Which is why I’m alarmed by a recent study in this month’s issue of Social Psychology, which found that just the “mere presence” of a cell phone around a person hinders that person’s mental capabilities. The cell phone doesn’t even have to be turned on. Within the study, participants were asked to do a numbers problem. Before the study, half the participants were asked to keep their smartphones out on their desk. While the other half of the participants were asked to put their cell phones away. While not one participant utilized their cell phone, those participants who had their cell phones stashed away did better with the numbers problem than those participants who had their cell phone in plain sight, performing nearly 20 percent worse than their peers.

Clearly, this study shows that smartphones are affecting our brain processes. Just by having your cell nearby, you are constantly glancing over, checking to see if you received a new message or call. Yes, it’s often distracting, yet we’re so accustomed to our smartphones, it’s become almost as natural as breathing.

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Which brings up the bigger picture. Smartphones are a tool we use to make our lives easier, yet according to this study, and others that have been released, smartphones are doing the exact opposite.

While I use my smartphone to control my life, it seems like the smartphone has the control over my life. The more technology advances the more we come to rely on it, but sometimes we might have to break apart from it once in a while to keep our independence.

While it doesn’t mean that I will stop relying on my cellphone altogether, it does mean that I’m just a little more conscious about how much I rely on it.