There’s a high chance that while you’re reading this, your smartphone is within a few inches of you. Maybe you’re even reading this on a smartphone! You’re not alone – the average American uses their phone for about five hours each day.
Rady School of Management professor Ayelet Gneezy and Ph.D. candidate Kristen Duke studied smartphone habits and how they can impact our health, drawing interesting conclusions on how usage affects levels of paranoia and “brain drain.” Their recent study found that the presence of a smartphone can be a profound distraction when completing tasks that require memory and attention, even when the smartphone was powered off. This was especially true for people who think of themselves as dependent on their smartphones.
The study measured the performance of undergraduates on tests of memory and attention while their smartphone was placed either on the desk next to them, in a pocket or purse, or in another room. The people who had their phones on their desk performed the worst on the tests, indicating that even when our smartphone are off, they’re still on our minds.
Gneezy and Duke’s research has been featured in a number of publications, including the Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal, Psychology Today and NPR.