Our smartphones are a wealth of information at the tip of our fingers. This begs the question, are smartphones making us stupid?
They help us find directions to new restaurants. They offer information about the places we want to visit. Smartphones can also instantly answer any question about whatever inquiry fills the mind. But are we getting lazy and avoiding thinking about things that we might already know. Indeed, smartphones are making us stupid. A group of scientists set out to prove it.
A team of researchers at the University of Waterloo conducted three studies with a total of 600 participants. The study categorized the subjects by measuring their cognitive style, ranging from intuitive to analytical. It also evaluated verbal and numerical skills. In additions, the study also analyzed the participants’ device usage habits.
Are Smartphones Making Us Stupid?
Smartphones are making us less likely to use our own brainpower. What the researchers found was that the convenience of this effect was more noticeable in intuitive thinkers. Intuitive thinkers are defined as personas that rely on instincts to make decisions. This type of person seems to be becoming lazier when it comes to thinking about a problem or question. They more often turn to the smartphone’s search engine for answers.
“They may look up information that they actually know or could easily learn, but are unwilling to make the effort to actually think about it.” ~ Gordon Pennycook, co-lead author of the study, and a PhD candidate in the Department of Psychology at Waterloo.
“Decades of research has revealed that humans are eager to avoid expending effort when problem-solving and it seems likely that people will increasingly use their smartphones as an extended mind.” ~ Nathaniel Barr, the other lead author of the paper, and a postdoctoral researcher at Waterloo.
The other type identified by the researchers as the analytical thinker, showed a greater eagerness to think without using the internet for information. The analytical thinker was defined as having stronger cognitive skills and who is less likely to go with a gut feeling when solving problems, or seeking answers.
“Our research provides support for an association between heavy smartphone use and lowered intelligence,” said Pennycook. “Whether smartphones actually decrease intelligence is still an open question that requires future research.”
“Our reliance on smart phones and other devices will likely only continue to rise,” said Barr. “It’s important to understand how smartphones affect and relate to human psychology before these technologies are so fully ingrained that it’s hard to recall what life was like without them. We may already be at that point.”
The researchers did not find any correlation between cognitive abilities and heavy use of social media and entertainment apps. An important point they did make is that “avoiding using our own minds to problem-solve might have adverse consequences for aging.”
The body is not the only part of you that needs exercise. Let your brain do some heavy lifting before pulling out your smartphone.
Waking Times originally created and published this article (Are Smartphones Making Us Stupid?). It is re-posted here with permission.