05

Jul

In today’s society, almost every individual has a smartphone, allowing them to surf the web, take videos, or play games from their fingertips.

While our phones may be “smart”, the people that own them may not be so lucky. According to a new study, having a smartphone near us, regardless of it being on or off, actually “decreases our cognitive capacity.”

Cognitive capacity has to do with our ability to evaluate and process information. Dr. Adrian Ward, the study’s first author, states: “We see a linear trend that suggests that when the smartphone becomes more noticeable, participants’ available cognitive capacity decreases. Your conscious mind isn’t thinking about your smartphone, 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 study had people perform various cognitive tasks. One group had their phone’s in the vicinity – some being face up, face down, turned on, and turned off. It was found that regardless of the phone being in all these different states, it still had an effect on their cognitive ability. This wasn’t due to participants receiving notifications though, just the mere presence of the phone was enough to decrease their mental capacity.

The rate of how dependent a person is on their phone also had an impact on how much it decreased their cognitive ability. Those who were more dependent showed more negative effects, versus those who were less dependent.

The only way to solve this issue? – Have the phone in an entirely different room. Once the phone was out of sight and out of mind, cognitive capacity increased.