Overuse of Smartphones Might be Making Us Dumber

It was generally believed that using smartphones can make people dumber and less productive. Most people dismissed it as a mere theory, citing the lack of credible case studies that showed the link between the two.

However, we may finally have proof to back up the claim that smartphones are actually impairing people’s memories.

A survey conducted by the researchers at the University of Chicago have discovered that people are bad at recalling information and doing simple tasks. That too only when they have a smartphone in their view.

Nearly 600 people were surveyed to find out if smartphones take a toll on our thought process. Unsurprisingly, the answer was a yes.

The Experiment

548 undergraduate students participated in this research over a span of two weeks. The participants were randomly assigned 3 different locations to keep their phones in:

  • desk,
  • pocket/bag
  • in another room.

All smartphones were also on silent mode.

Some participants were asked to leave their phones on the desk along with some of their belongings inside a room. The same was done by another group of participants but with one minor change – they were asked to keep their smartphones in their pockets. One last group was instructed to take nothing with them inside the testing room.

Once inside the room, all participants were tasked with completing two tasks to measure their cognitive capacity. The tasks were simple mathematical equations and memory and intelligence tests.



The results of the research were not surprising, to say the least. The researchers found that the people who could see their phones solved a significantly lower number of math problems and remembered fewer letters. They recorded a 10% lower score than those who left their phones in another room. Even those participants who kept their phones out of sight in their pockets only scored marginally better than those who kept it at their tables.

The results undoubtedly indicate that the mere presence of the participants’ smartphones impaired their performance on tasks that are limited to our memory. It’s important to note that the participants did not interact with their smartphones and neither did they receive any notifications on it during the experiment.

Source: Journals | University of Chicago