A new study from UT Austin says having your phone within sight is reducing your cognitive ability.
We all know that cell phones are distracting. A ding from a text message or an email grabs our attention from whatever we are in the middle of and we can’t help but check it.
But this new study is showing us that it’s reducing our brain power just by being in the same room, even if the device is turned off.
So, how well can you complete tasks when your cell phone is next to you? A professor and his students at UT Austin took 800 cell phone users and asked them to sit at a computer and take a series of tests that required full concentration. They were all told to turn their phones off and some of the participants were told to put their phone on the table face down, some put them in their purse, others put them in another room.
Even though the participants felt they weren’t distracted since their phones were turned off and couldn’t notify them, the ones with cell phones in the room significantly underperformed. Only the people with their cell phone in another room did well.
“Having a smartphone within sight or within easy reach reduces a person’s ability to focus and perform tasks because part of their brain is actively working to not pick up or use the phone.”
This is on one hand upsetting news since it just goes to show us how addicted we are to our cell phones and electronic devices, but it’s really good to know. Knowledge is of course power and knowing what our brain is doing subconsciously is important.
If you’re spending quality time with your children, put your phone in another room.
If you’re having family dinner, put your phone in another room.
If you’re working on something really important to you, put your phone in another room.
If you’re trying to slow down, have some peaceful alone time, read a book; put your phone in another room.
It’s OK to use a cell phone and keep it around so don’t feel guilty just yet. But be conscious of the fact that no matter what, if it’s around you, it’s distracting. Don’t let your work or your family or whatever is important to you become second to it.