Just having your phone out hurts your brain
Where is your phone right now?
Maybe it’s in your hand, tucked in your bag, sitting in your pocket, face down on the table across from you. Or maybe you’ve stopped reading to frantically pat all of your pockets because you swear that you had it before you got on the Tube this morning.
Either way, the point is we’re all prone to being hyper-aware of our phone’s location at all times, and there’s no point in denying it. But a recent study shows mobile phones negatively affect our thought process when left in plain sight, even if they’re on silent or turned off.
Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin asked 520 people to solve a series of maths problems while simultaneously remembering a randomly generated phrase to measure cognitive performance. The group was also randomly separated into three groups: the first left their phones on the desk where they worked, the second put their phones in their pockets or bags, and the last had to leave their phones in another room.
After completing the tasks, participants answered questions about the connection between their phones and cognitive performance.
The group that left their phones out solved fewer maths problems and had more trouble remembering phrases than the other two groups – what the researchers coined as “brain drain”. There was no difference, though, between the groups’ perception of how mobile phones affected performance, which “suggests that participants failed to anticipate or acknowledge the cognitive consequences associated with the mere presence of their phones,” according to the study.
Within the report, the researchers stress that the only solution for brain drain is separation between man and machine.
So this study just gave you the perfect reason to put your phone away while at work or completing any basic task. Or it could prove how effective you are as a procrastinator.