Smart Phones – Are They Hurting Your Child’s Learning Ability?

Smart Phones – Are They Hurting Your Child’s Learning Ability?

Smart phones – they are ubiquitous. I tell my wife that our son once he learns to drive won’t be able to go anywhere without his cell phone. That is because he never looks up from it in the car to see where we are going. He’ll need Google Maps to go anywhere, and if the battery runs out or his phone dies, he’ll be “lost”.

When it comes to school kids today use cell phones to look up information to write reports and work problems. But would they be able to find the answer without their smart phones?

So the question lingers do smart phones really make us smarter?

A study at my Alma Matter The University of Texas has research showing that smart phones may actually make us dumber. Here is an article on it from CNET.com :

Looks like the word “smartphone” may be a misnomer. Sure the phone may be smart, but just having it around makes us dumber, according to a study of nearly 800 phone users conducted by the University of Texas at Austin. 

Researchers at the university’s McCombs School of Business asked participants to take a series of computer-based tests that needed their full concentration. Before they began the tests, geared to measure “the brain’s ability to hold and process data at any given time,” people in the study were randomly asked to either place their phone facedown on the desk, in their pocket or in another room. All were told to mute the sound. 

The study found that people with their phones in another room “significantly outperformed” those who had their phones on the desk, and did slightly better than those who had their phones in a pocket. 

“Your conscious mind isn’t thinking about your smartphone, but that process — the process of requiring yourself to not think about something — uses up some of your limited cognitive resources,” said McCombs Assistant Professor Adrian Ward, who headed the experiment. “It’s a brain drain.”

Researchers found just having a phone within view or easy reach reduces a person’s ability to focus and perform tasks, because our brain’s are actively working to not pick up the phone. “The mere presence of their smartphones was enough to reduce their cognitive capacity,” Ward said.

Sound like the research has vindicated my opinion on our son and his smart phone – maybe we should just call them cell phones!

Cary Michael Cox