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How Can Something So Smart Make Us So Dumb?

To me, it is the greatest product of all time. It’s a telephone, a music and video player, a movie making device, a banking device, a communications device, a gaming device, an information retrieval device, a GPS, a home automation control device.

Do I need to keep going? I could list dozens more things this product can do, but I think you know what I am referring to.

It’s a smartphone, of course.

It’s amazing to look at one of these devices, which fit in the palm of your hand, and think that it has more processing power and storage space than the early mainframes, which were the size of rooms.

But like most things in life, nothing is perfect (well except for a 300 in bowling).

A growing body of research suggests that just by having a smartphone with us, it diminishes our intelligence.

  • A 2015 Journal of Experimental Psychology study, involving 166 subjects, found that when people’s phones beep or buzz while they’re in the middle of a challenging task, their focus wavers, and their work gets sloppier—whether they check the phone or not.
  • Another 2015 study, which involved 41 iPhone users and appeared in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, showed that when people hear their phone ring but are unable to answer it, their blood pressure spikes, their pulse quickens, and their problem-solving skills decline.
  • Another study looked at the impact of having a phone close by while taking tests of intellectual acuity. The results were striking; subjects whose phones were in view posted the worst scores, while those who left their phones in a different room did the best. Conclusion:  as the phone’s proximity increased, brainpower decreased. Students who didn’t bring their phones to the classroom scored a full letter-grade higher on a test of the material presented than those who brought their phones,”
  • And finally, a study of 91 secondary schools in the U.K., published last year in the journal Labour Economics, found that when schools ban smartphones, students’ examination scores go up substantially, with the weakest students benefiting the most.”In other words, smartphones are making us dumb.

And for those of who use a smartphone, you know there a ring of truth to such a statement.

Who hasn’t become increasingly dependent on their smartphone, or oblivious to the environment around theme?

But I’m not jumping off the smartphone bandwagon.

As I stated at the beginning of the blog, I consider smartphones to be the best product ever developed. But it needs to be used in moderation so that you don’t become addicted to it.

Easier said than done, but doing so may be worth a a point or two on an IQ test.

Speaking of IQ tests, did you see that President Trump … never mind, it’s not even worth going there…

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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