A lot of people have suggested that we rely too much on our smartphones to do our thinking for us. I can’t really make an argument against them, can you?
Considering how many people rely on their phones, instead of their brains… I’m not surprised. People who are less analytic (but have a strong intuition) use their smartphones to “think” for them, reports this study.
Just how smartphones are making us mental couch potatoes… is something I’d like to find out. Let’s find out together!
1. GPS Degrades Memory
Neuroscientist Veronique Bohbot did a study with her colleagues. Her team found that global positioning systems (GPS) reduces the hippocampus. Remember what the hippocampus is?
It’s the part of your brain that… well… remembers stuff.
Which makes sense, right? If you always have a machine telling you where to go, you’ll rarely get the chance to develop a “feel” for where you’re going. Mesmerizing signs and stop lights, what turns you took and where. Which landmarks to watch out for. That type of useful stuff that is crucial for remembering directions.
2. Ruin Our Multitasking
According to Today, a Stanford researcher Clifford Nass did a study; what he found was shocking:
Heavy multitaskers (people who watch TV, surf the web, and find the cure for cancer while gabbing away on their phones all at once) were less able than the average person to focus on a task.
Author Nicholas Carr went on to say this in his book, “The Glass Cage: Automation And Us.” He dives deep into our relationship with factory robots doing the work of humans, self-driving cars, computer glasses, and more.
3. What To Do Next?
Let’s say, for example, that you accidentally drop your smartphone into the toilet. Whoops! Quick, what’s your first reaction?
…Take it out of course. But then what? Try to use it again?
Wrong! This is pure laziness. Chances are unless this has happened before, you never had the curiosity to look it up.
A “just in case” scenario. No fear – the smart thing to do first, to save your smartphone from a watery grave, would be to turn it off.
What you should do next is a tricky process, but it is doable.
4. They Do Things For Us
We’ve invented apps… That do this for us. An app like TaskRabbit can connect anyone with money to people who will clean your house, shop for you… even assemble new furniture.
A local help app Zaarly helps you find someone to bake a cake for you.
An app called FastCustomer will actually connect you with people… who will wait on customer service’s hold for you. Then get back in touch with you when waiting times are done.
I mean, really? Really? People in the world actually get paid to wait on hold? I can understand these services for executives or people who are busy developing apps that (gasp!) help the world. But, personally, for the life of me… I can’t understand how people can be so lazy.
Such is the craze of the digital age.
5. Too Much Search Engine-ing
Let me ask you a question (and you can’t Google the answer! Respect the honor system). A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. So how much does the bat cost?
As CTVnews reports, the answer is 5 cents. At least, that’s what analytical thinkers would think.
The researchers who held this study then asked those same people about whether or not they owned a smartphone. The researchers then looked at the number of people who did own one and found something interesting.
People who use smartphones extensively scored lower on several tests.
6. Reduce Our Instinct
It’s our natural instinct to look up something – from regular questions and directions; even those we know already, buried somewhere deeply in our minds.
And, sadly, smartphones are ruining our instincts, as Real Simple points out.
They even acknowledge our addiction (or slavery?) to the devices and provide helpful tips on curbing the “need” for checking smartphones every ten minutes. There’s no messages, no emails, nothing – but still, you keep checking your smartphones.
Maybe it’s time for you to sell your smartphone and just be without it for some time. Or, hand-it-over to someone, rent it out (if someone is willing to take it) but just don’t throw it out with anger. It’s your buddy that comes handy when needed but it can become an addiction if used when unneeded.
7. Children Are Prey
Smartphones aren’t all about you, are they? Sadly, children are prey, too. As it’s quite a common site (during an average day) to see at least one or two toddlers and preteens sporting smartphones. What’s the harm, right? It can’t be all that bad, can it? I mean, they’re going to get into the things sooner or later, aren’t they? Why not start them while they’re young! So they can become proficient “masters” when they’re teenagers and young adults.
96% of small children have used mobile devices and in two years (from ’11 to ’13) the number of children using smart devices leaped from 50% to more than 75%.
A 25% increase in two years. What’s worse than that? Real Simple broke the news that children (between 8 and 10 years old) spent more than seven hours on social media. (When they weren’t in school, that is.)
Seven. Hours. A. Day. On social media.
The study goes on to say that this “devotion” to social media stunts a lot of children’s emotional growth. How? Because they limit our face-to-face interactions. (Obviously, this is a no-brainer.)
“But what’s so bad about that,” some might say. “I sat in front of a screen all the time and I turned out just fine.”
While, yes, it’s true most 20-somethings (myself included) spend most of our days and adolescence in front of screens… We also had friends, and knew how to talk to each other, and spent most nights not just curled up in front of our devices… but we were out in the world – being stupid, causing mayhem, disrupting sleeping neighbors, and teasing dogs. We basked in (though we didn’t know it at the time) the good ol’ days.
Children today, by way of screens, are being robbed of that experience. They’re spoiled, just like teens. My own nephew LOVES video games. If he doesn’t have a video game in his hand, he gets restless and starts acting like a caffeine-sensitive person gulping two cups of black coffee in a row.
He’s a bad case.
Was I like that? Sure! But not to that extent – and I definitely had other things to do. But that was then. I don’t want to become one of those “Why, back in my day…” old geezers, but it’s true! We didn’t have a lot of the stuff they do now.
And it’s slowly depriving children of… well… childhood.
So the biggest way smartphones make us mentally lazy, as parents and on-lookers and uncles and aunts, is by how we handle children: sitting them in front of a screen, and letting technology raise them.
For as much good that smartphones provide in the world… which in no way can be overestimated… there is a serious drawback that we, as thinkers of society, need to think twice about.
We don’t want to lose our superpower use of cognitive functions, do we? Otherwise… The next generation of kids won’t stand an intellectual chance, to help the human race evolve as a species. Our posterity as a collective humanity might just be at risk.