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


  • Zawyar Ur Rehman

    Lack of attention is different than lack of intelligence.
    Phones attract our attention, yes. But they impair our mind and make is dumber? I call rubbish.
    The test setup only proves that our attention gets divided b/w the task at hand and the phone depending on our vicinity with it.
    So, does “overuse” (as indicated by the clickbait title) of smartphones make us dumb? This study is TOTALLY unrelated to that quesion.
    Do they attract our attention a lot? Yes. As shown by this study.

    • Syed Zarar

      “The researchers found that the people who could see their phones solved a significantly lower number of math problems and remembered fewer letters.”

      Completely unrelated indeed.

      • Zawyar Ur Rehman

        Lack of “attention”! Duh! Just because i don’t pay attention to what is happening or what you say doesn’t mean that i’m “dumb”.
        The title, and the report cited in this article are providing two COMPLETELY different questions and only one of them is being answered.
        In simple words, title is wrong. The report cited, is not.

    • abobobilly

      On a side note, Smartphones are one of the reasons for people’s dumb nature these days. Not the primary, It’s the age of “Google Search”, where doing that is lightening fast, as compared to reading books, or doing manual calculations.

      • Tam Oor

        are you trying to say that reading books is a smart choice to remember things better than Google Search? Well… both plays the same role but Google search is far more quicker way… If you are smart enough to read and remember something then Google is a far better option than a book… SO smartphones are not the reason for people to be dumb… its people themselves! :P

      • Zawyar Ur Rehman

        Before mobile, it was computers, before computers,it was TV, before TV , it was radio and before radio, it was Books themselves at the centre of criticism! When will people realise that the intelligent, remain intelligent and the dumb, stay dumb no matter what they use!
        Technology has evolved. Dumb people, have not.

  • Shark Lasers

    Pure clickbait title. Phones are just a tool. Dumb people will continue to be dumb with phones, tv or any other device and smart people will use phones intelligently.