EmbrACE Magazine

Are Smartphones Killing your Buzz?


I bet your grandparents too have mentioned how: “Those darn cellular devices will rot your brains out”. Or perhaps that was something only moms say about sugar and teeth. Regardless, there is a high degree of contestation regarding the effects that these ‘cellular devices’ are having on our brains and that is what this mini article will focus on.

I, in all my hipsterness, only bought my first phone a little over a year ago. In keeping up with current trends I lay my phone face-down whenever I’m talking with people. I suppose this creates the illusion that I am less addicted to my dish sponge-sized device than others are. In truth however, over 60% of the world owns a phone and is growing steadily addicted to using it.

Research has shown that brain power decreases if our phone is on the same table that we are sitting at as opposed to our phone being in a different room. This was measured by researchers in Texas who administered a batch of tests to research subjects who had their phone next to them and likewise to a batch with their phones in a different room. The researchers noticed remarkable differences between how well the two groups scored on their tests. This even included when the participants’ phones were on silent and face down. So much for my hipsterness, right? This is because our brains can only handle a certain amount of information at once. Though it happens at an unconscious level, because we are so deeply connected with our phones the mere presence of our phones can cause our minds to start think about them.

The ‘brain drain’ that is our cellphone has spurred a popcorn effect in our thoughts. This is to say, it is becoming increasingly difficult for us to remain focused on one thing at a time. Yet, cellphones are not all bad. Other research shows that these devices are keeping our minds sharp. The constant Google searches we do throughout the day help keep our brains active the same way a crossword puzzle might. So, what should you do, go native and ditch your cellphone in lieu of the Jane Goodall lifestyle?

There is a note of urgency, and I will leave you dear reader with this. Research shows smartphones are hurting our creative thinking abilities. A brain drain on visionary thinking, perhaps your grandparents do hold some truth. The fact that smartphones give us the ability to answer our questions with the click of a button means our thoughts put in less effort to come up with their own unique rationales for problem solving. Creativity is a muscle. Thus, if you want to compete with creative geniuses such as Escher, consider going beyond your basic Google searcher. Instead of simply satisfying the answer to your question with the click of a button, try thinking of other questions you could ask pertaining to your earlier question. Instead of just doing a google search for a lasagna recipe, think of a unique way of cooking lasagna. Eggplant lasagna with a Greek salad? Uncle DUO has you covered! You’ll be a creative genius (and quite hungry/broke) in no time!