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Are smartphones actually making us dumb?

Smartphones may be the technological future but are they making us dumber? We look at how phones and computers are affecting our cognitive abilities.

Are smartphones making us dumber?

If you grew up in the 80’s or the early 90’s, chances are you remember a time before smartphones, before Facebook and before Google. This was a time when restaurant bills required mathematical scribbles for split bills and percentage calculations. It was also a time when phoning a friend required prior organization and access to the wall phone. Whatever your feelings on days gone by, one thing is clear; a lot has changed in 30 years.

Since the dawn of the new millennium, we have seen a technological explosion with cheaper electronics, smarter computers and the introduction of AI technology. Today, just about everyone has a smartphone or mobile device within arms reach. It has hard to grasp just how technologically brilliant these devices are. Primarily they are communication devices, but we all know they are more than that and you can use them for everything from playing at River Belle casino to navigating your way around town.

WHAT PHONES MEAN TO US

When you absentmindedly leave your phone at home or lose your phone for a day, your body goes into a sort of panicked state. The thought of not being contactable, or not being able to contact anyone else creates a physical reaction that leads to higher blood pressure and sometime full-blown panic. When looked at from an outside point of view, we can see that we all use our phones for just about everything we do. Need to split the restaurant bill, just whip out your phone’s calculator or bill app. We put in reminders, schedules, even games to keep us entertained when we have 10 minutes to spare.

Researchers have discovered that technology and smartphones have created what is termed the “Google Effect”. What this means is that the presence of smartphones physically inhibits mental coding and the ability to recall information.

HOW ARE WE AFFECTED?

Most of us think that we suffer from mental fatigue since our modern jobs require mental input instead of physical input like the generations that came before us. What we are doing in fact is using one small area of our brain while letting technology do the rest. When last did you memorise your entire address book. Can you even recall the phone numbers of your closest friends? Can you navigate to the other side of town without a GPS, or find your way back from a party using image recollection?

Researchers have discovered that technology and smartphones have created what is termed the “Google Effect”. What this means is that the presence of smartphones physically inhibits mental coding and the ability to recall information. We are so used to having something do it for us, we have forgotten how to do it for ourselves. Smartphones have also been linked to decreased brainpower and agitation.

THE WAY FORWARD

Smartphone and software developers are continually looking for new ways to make our lives easier, to improve our user experience and to make our phones do more. It is up to us to decide what we should allow our phones to do and what we should really be doing for ourselves. We blame our busy jobs, our hectic lifestyle and our family stresses for not remembering a friend’s birthday, a special occasion, or forgetting to go past the store. When we choose to use our brain for simple tasks, it forms connections and becomes better at processing information. Try use your phone less and see what happens.

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Your "not that regular" all-around gal, writing about anything, thus everything. "There's always more to discover... thus write about," she says in between - GASP! - puffs. And so that's what she does, exactly. Write, of course; not (just) puff.

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