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Prague-based media development worker from Poland with a journalistic background. Previously worked on digital issues in Brussels. Piqs about digital issues, digital rights, data protection, new trends in journalism and other tech-focused topics.
This is not scaremongering or exaggerating. Smartphones do erode our ability to focus, to remember, to reason and to connect with each other. The Wall Street Journal brings up a number of academic studies to back that up. Citing the work of researchers at Columbia University, University of Texas, University of California and University of Essex, just to name a few, the article paints a gloomy and disturbing picture of the effect the omnipresent smartphones have on our mental capabilities.
What are some of the effects mentioned in the article? For example, people who have their phones in view exhibit less cognitive capacity compared to those with their phones in another room. Moreover, students who leave their phones at home outperform those who keep their phones with them.
“Smartphones have become so entangled with our existence that, even when we’re not peering or pawing at them, they tug at our attention, diverting precious cognitive resources. Just suppressing the desire to check our phone, which we do routinely and subconsciously throughout the day, can debilitate our thinking. The fact that most of us now habitually keep our phones 'nearby and in sight,' the researchers noted, only magnifies the mental toll," writes the Wall Street Journal.
If the Wall Street Journal article and its science-based arguments aren't enough to make you consider cutting down on your smartphone time, top it up with the recent text by the Guardian. Tackling the same issue from a more personal perspective, the article describes how some of the tech workers who helped make the digital world so addictive have grown disaffected and try to disentangle themselves. If that doesn't convince you, I don't know what will.