Apparently so, at least according to the results of a study recently conducted by researchers from the University of Texas at Austin. The team behind the study were from the university’s McCombs School of Business, and they were able to collect the data needed by evaluating close to 800 owners of smartphone devices.
The study specifically involved having the participants take a series of computer based tests that required the full attention of the subjects. The tests were supposedly designed by the researchers to measure the human brain’s ability to retain and process information at any given moment. Right before they took the tests, the participants were requested randomly to either put their smartphone face down on the table, inside their pocket, or in a separate room. Every tester was instructed to set their mobile devices to mute.
The results of the university’s study show that those participants who placed their mobile devices in a separate room were performing significantly better than those who were asked to put their handset on the table, while faring just a tad better than those participants who were asked to put their phone inside their pocket.
As explained by Adrian Ward, McCombs Assistant Professor and the leader of the research team, people’s conscious minds are not thinking about their smartphone, but that process of telling one’s self to not think about anything actually uses up some of a person’s limited cognitive abilities, which virtually leads to some sort of brain drain.
Based on the results of their study, the research team also found that the mere presence of the smartphone has a kind of distracting effect on people. Just placing a smartphone within the line of sight, or within arm’s length actually increases the likelihood of people losing some of their focus, and in the process, lessening their ability to complete tasks. One reason for this is that the human brain is constantly telling the person to stop thinking about attending to that mobile device over there.
Much has already been said about how people nowadays are so reliant on smartphones, and this recent study is yet another proof that, for better or worse, we are all connected to our smartphones whether we like it or not. How quickly things change -- some decades back, mobile devices used to be just gadgets we can use to make or take phone calls and send or receive text messages with. Now, it is something that draws our attention 24/7 -- whether we are checking the latest trending topics on social media, browsing real time live game scores, or browsing the latest news. Yup, we have better access to information now, but if this means we are trading our ability to focus and complete tasks on our own, it might not be that good a deal.
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