In high school, we had a teacher who once almost had a nervous breakdown in class. The reason consisted of the fact that we did not pay attention, at all, to what she was saying. In her own words, not paying attention was worse that misbehaving or being noisy. While we weren’t disturbing the class, she noticed that our minds kept being elsewhere, on a regular basis.
I don’t remember what our preoccupation was back then, but today, we would surely be thinking of something related to our phones – a message, a photo, the latest updates from one of our contacts or the videogame we like with those virtual chores that we must perform at regular times.
Smartphones finally get accurate studies…
…in what their desensitization effect is concerned, that is. While extremely profitable for the tech producers, as well as for the marketers and the commercial entities that found a new way of reaching out to customers whenever, wherever, their effect on people’s cognitive abilities is bad, apparently.
Since profitability is the key factor that drives competent studies, we may well assume a few things. First, the situation is serious and thoroughly researched. Secondly, the degree it affects budgets must be high. Weighing the pros and cons resulting from this situation, the tech industry took the preliminary steps. Educating smartphone users would be the first step. The message comes through pretty clear – mind the way you use your phones.
Not managing our smartphones properly means not being in control. This in turn pairs up with being less attentive, less intelligent and less productive.
Do we have to actually be on the phone for it to affect us?
As this article from HBR that prompted this topic shows, people don’t actually have to use their phone actively to perform less in cognitive activities.
The strength of the connection people have with their phones is the factor that makes the difference. Those who have developed a dependency are affected even by the presence of their phones in the pocket.
This does not make smartphones evil – it simply draws the attention to a fact that we need to take into considerations. Our phones have become points of attraction, and their lure is stronger when unacknowledged. Once realizing that we have a problem, it’s up to us to find solutions.
Depending on just how serious this issue is – in numbers and metrics – we can expect to see other warnings, or even future public campaigns teaching people how to put their phones away, when needing to focus.
Entrepreneur also based a feature on the study backing up the HBR article.