Can your Smartphone Make You Not-So-Smart?


A recent joint study out of University of Texas Austin and University of California San Diego looked at whether your “smartphone” can make you “not-so-smart.”  Results from two experiments indicate that even when people are successful at maintaining sustained attention—as when avoiding the temptation to check their phones—the mere presence of these devices reduces available cognitive capacity.

Participants were split into two groups and took cognitive capacity tests, these test measured their concentration and how well they could receive and process information.  The difference between the two groups, one group had their cell phones in their pockets or purses and the other group had theirs put in a lockbox in another room before starting the test.

After several rounds with varying factors the results were clear, the group that left their smart phones outside the room performed significantly higher on the tests than those that had their phones nearby or on them.

This is interesting to consider, that the mere presence of our phones can make it more difficult to concentrate.  We truly live in a world where we are constantly connected and “on” and it seems that we have a harder time unplugging than we may even be aware of.

It’s also important to consider what this means for children.  Obviously cell phones in the classroom are disruptive, but based on this study even having a phone in their backpack would alter a child’s ability to focus and learn.  As a parent the logical step would be to not send your child to school with a phone, which we know is difficult since most children get their first phone at around age 10.

So what can you do to help your child?

A good first step, if you do allow your child to have a phone at school, would be to make a rule that it must be turned off during school hours and if possible stored in a locker.  This is a good rule to maintain during homework time as well, having the phone off and in another location than where your kid is studying.

There have been numerous studies showing that cell phones in the bedroom interrupt sleep patterns, so it’s also a good idea to not let your child keep a phone in their room at night.  More than ever we as parents have to be aware of the way cell phones, and all screen time, can be a trap for our kids and help them learn and build healthy boundaries with technology.

For more information on how to help your child unplug contact us at Summerland Camps by calling (800) 867-2090