How can a device which gives you instant access to a growing number of useful tools and is used by a few billion of earth’s seemingly dominant species (ants, mosquitoes, and cockroaches notwithstanding) make humans dumber?
After all, isn’t iPhone called a smartphone? And isn’t the iPhone the smartest of the smartphones and specifically targeted at the smartest of humanity? Maybe it’s just the rest of the smartphones– Android, I’m looking at you– that is having a dumbing down effect on humankind.
Well, researchers doing their research found a brain drain whenever a smartphone is around. In fact, the mere presence of your own smartphone in the room reduces cognitive capacity. That must be important because it’s in the headline of the research paper.
Here’s the good and the bad in a single piece of a single paragraph.
Our smartphones enable—and encourage—constant connection to information, entertainment, and each other. They put the world at our fingertips, and rarely leave our sides. Although these devices have immense potential to improve welfare, their persistent presence may come at a cognitive cost.
The ugly shows up in the details which do not discriminate among brands. iPhones, apparently, can make you dumber, too. Both the smartphone enabled populace and how dumb we seem to have become is a recent phenomenon.
The sharp penetration of smartphones, both across global markets and into consumers’ everyday lives, repre- sents a phenomenon high in “meaning and mattering”– one that has the potential to affect the welfare of billions of consumers worldwide.
For better or worse, apparently.
John C. Dvorak is back, folks.
Smartphones affect two forms of cognition: working memory capacity (the ability to remember short-term information, among other things) and fluid intelligence (the ability to reason and solve novel problems). Both were dependent on the location of the phone itself. You are maximally dumbed down when your phone is out, whether turned on or off. You are dumbed down slightly less if your phone is in a pocket or purse, but dumbed down nevertheless. And you are the smartest when your phone is in another room or inaccessible.
The handwriting on the wall is obvious– unless we’ve become too dumb to pay attention. Just being in the presence of your smartphone makes you less smart.
Have you ever felt the so-called phantom vibration effect? You think your phone is ringing in silent mode when it is not.
Hey, this is scientific research. It can’t be wrong.
Research on the attentional cost of receiving cellphone notifications indicates that awareness of a missed text message or call impairs performance on tasks requiring sustained attention, arguably because unaddressed notifications prompt message-related (and task-unrelated) thoughts
Or, can it? After all, the research is extensive and has plenty to back up the conclusion. Then again, look around. It doesn’t take much research to realize that something is going on and humanity may not be the better for it. You’ll see co-workers gazing longingly at a nearby iPhone as if waiting for something to happen. You’ll see people sending texts to other people who are sitting next to them.
And don’t get me started on selfies and emojis.
Relative to the wheel, running water, and electricity, the smartphone is an infant so we don’t really know what impact it will have on society in a few decades, but the research indicates it won’t be pretty.
One’s smartphone is more than just a phone, a camera, or a collection of apps. It is the one thing that connects ev- erything—the hub of the connected world. The presence of one’s smartphone enables on-demand access to informa- tion, entertainment, social stimulation, and more. However, our research suggests that these benefits—and the depen- dence they engender—may come at a cognitive cost.
I’m thinking that freedom of thought and analysis could take a major hit and we could soon be living in a world run by dictators.