The first handheld cellphone call was made 50 years ago, and since then, these devices have become an essential multi-tool that helps us run our lives. However, as our societal dependence on devices increases rapidly every year, it’s worth asking: what is our reliance on these devices doing to our brains?
A recent report found that adults in the US check their phones, on average, 344 times a day – once every four minutes – and spend almost three hours a day on their devices in total. One quick phone-related task leads to a quick check of our email or social media feeds, and suddenly we’ve been sucked into endless scrolling.
But it’s not just the use of a phone that has consequences – its mere presence can affect the way we think. In one recent study, researchers asked participants to either put their phones next to them so they were visible, nearby and out of sight, or in another room. Participants then completed a series of tasks to test their abilities to process and remember information, their problem-solving, and their focus.
They were found to perform far better when their phones were in another room instead of nearby – whether visible, powered on or not. That held true even though most of the participants claimed not to be consciously thinking about their devices. The mere proximity of a phone, it seems, contributes to “brain drain”. Our brains may be subconsciously hard at work in inhibiting the desire to check our phones, or constantly monitoring the environment to see if we should check our phone (e.g., waiting for a notification). Either way, this diverted attention can make doing anything else more difficult. The only “fix,” the researchers found, was putting the device in a different room entirely.
Studies have found that checking our phones, even for a quick task, can lead to distraction and impair our memory and performance. However, some researchers have found upsides to our device dependency, such as the ability to use digital reminders to improve memory. The article suggests leaving the phone in another room as a way to mitigate the negative impact and reminds us that our brains have more resources than we think, and each time we resist the temptation to check our phone, we’re laying down new neural pathways that will make it easier to resist that temptation in the future.
In conclusion, while cellphones have become an essential part of our daily lives, it’s important to be mindful of their impact on our brains. By following best practices such as leaving the phone in another room, avoiding multitasking, and being aware of the presence of a phone, we can mitigate the negative impact and use our devices in a more beneficial way.
To mitigate the negative impact of cellphone use on our brains, here are some best practices:
- Leave your phone in another room to avoid distraction and brain drain.
- Avoid multitasking, as it impairs memory and performance.
- Use digital reminders to improve memory, but be cautious of over-relying on them.
- Be mindful of your phone use while driving, as even talking on the phone can make you slower to react on the road.
A Symphony of Screens, Our Minds Redefined
Fifty years since that first call was made,
Our lives now tethered to screens, unafraid.
Essential, these devices we clutch and desire,
Yet, do they serve us or stoke a wildfire?
Three hundred forty-four times each day,
We glance at our screens, a compulsive display.
Checking emails, social feeds in a trance,
As endless scrolling becomes our new dance.
Yet presence alone casts a shadow, a veil,
Our minds consumed, even when phones lay still.
In studies, they found, performance took flight,
When phones left the room, our minds took to the night.
For “brain drain” occurs, with phones within reach,
Our focus diverted, their siren calls beseech.
The fix, it seems, so simple and clear,
Place phones far away, and watch focus reappear.
But not all is lost, in this digital age,
Reminders can strengthen our memories, engage.
Yet resist temptation, be mindful and wise,
For neural pathways grow when we break the ties.
In conclusion, dear friends, let’s reflect and refine,
The ways we embrace these devices, divine.
For as we become one with the digital fray,
Our brains’ evolution depends on the way.
James Sunheart is a student of personal development and spiritual growth. He is passionate about optimizing people, systems and life. He’s written 7 books. Interviewed hundreds of experts. Given a TED Talk in France. Lives in Costa Rica while developing a sustainable eco-village. For opportunities email: James AT FullPotential.com