In this day in age, it is impossible to ignore the presence smartphones play in our lives. They provide communication, connection, entertainment and countless other activities. But Adrian Wards, Assistant Professor at The University of Texas, McCombs School of Business, argues that smartphones are our biggest distraction.
Wards and his team conducted an experiment to measure how smartphones impact one's cognitive capacity—the brain's ability to process and hold data at a given time. In the study, 800 smartphone users took an online test requiring full concentration.
The researchers created three groups: one with their phones on the desk facing down, one with their phones in their pockets, and one with their phones in a separate room away from arms reach. This was to see how well people would do on the test if their smartphones were nearby.
The experiment found that those who placed their phones in the other room significantly outperformed those who kept their phones.
This suggests that cognitive capacity is significantly reduced when smartphones are within reach even if they're off. “We see a linear trend that suggests as 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 not to think about something— uses up some of your limited cognitive resources. It's a brain drain.” said Wards.
[Source: UT News]