Cluttered Box / Social Box

Is My Smartphone Making Me Stupid?

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Just like one of my other sudden realizations (which seem to be happening too often now), I had a Shakespearean -esque epiphany about what my smartphone is doing to me. You may not realize it, but your mobile phone is having a detrimental effect on your mental health and memory. Yes, they have tons of advantages, but it’s important to stop and consider all the negative effects mobile usage is having on your brain.

The First Sign

Reading one of the shortest books ever – The Great Gatsby – took me 10 days to complete. Why? As an English Literature graduate, novels are my thing. I used to read 2-3 books a week for my degree – with one of them being ‘fun reading’. Before university, I read books to relax – before sleeping, after school, at the bus stop or in my room – anywhere was good to read a book. Then why on earth did it take me 10 days – 240 hours – to read a book that is barely over 100 pages?

The answer was simple and clear: Smartphone.

A device that is applauded for it’s ability to connect us with millions worldwide and ensure that everything is available at the touch of fingertips, was actually hindering my reading process. While I was reading, I was checking my phone continuously because even though I was not talking on it physically, I was simply connected with everyone. The pattern was this: read 2 paragraphs – check whatsapp – reach 2 more lines – email notification got a comment on blog, reply to comment – read 1 more paragraph – Facebook photo comment, check and reply – read another 3 lines – 2 Tweets .
This pattern is not only disturbing to realize, but I was downright disgusted by it. Why couldn’t I simply put my phone and read chapter upon chapter like I used to be able to?

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The Second Sign

Reading an Influencers article on one of my favorite social networks – LinkedIn – when one of my colleagues asks me what I’m reading about. For a good 30 seconds, I was completely blank, just staring at his face. What was I reading exactly? I just couldn’t remember. After a minute, I blinked at his face twice and the subject finally came to me.

Checking my mobile phone while reading something is second nature and I don’t even give it a thought – so somewhere along the line I started reading passively. This not only shocked me to no end, but I have been working hard on correcting this! Do you ever have to re-read sentences or paragraphs just because your brain can’t actively understand it the first time?

The Final Sign

The last straw was when I was finishing The Great Gastby. The book was getting boring with Gatsby and his obsession with Daisy, so I voluntarily kept checking my phone for some sort of distraction instead of actually finishing the book. My attention span had been shortened to the point where I was knowingly putting active reading aside for a notification from social media.

And that’s when it all came tumbling down. I am not one to stand aside and allow my mind to become passive. I have the ability to read a book in one sitting, to research for hours and learn new things within minutes – skills that I have gained pride in over the years. I am not going to let a little device that sits in my hand control my future to an extent where I am enslaved by it. Feel the same way? Welcome to my boat – enjoy the ride!

Don’t Let your Phone Be Your Boss

A study by Kleiner Perkins showed some shocking results yet not-so-surprising results about how we use social media in today’s day and age. One thing I found particularly interesting about this study were the statistics about how many times a day we reach for our mobile phones:

slide-52-638150 times – that number is huge and it’s just an average. The fact is that most of us, especially from generation Y, use our phones much more than older generations. Has it really become necessary to check our phones so many times a day to just stay connected? Personally, I believe that this has a negative effect on our concentration span and memory. What would be the point of multi-tasking to the extent that it becomes completely passive? There is little or no use of a passive memory, and that is why we need to put a stop to this. Here’s how:

1. Step Away from your Phone

Make it a point to leave your phone in the other room. You are not truly having ‘me’ time or ‘alone’ time if you have your phone with you. If you are taking a long, relaxing bath and have your phone on you, then it is like you are in the bath tub with your entire Facebook friend list. Think of it like that and you won’t ever take the phone with you!

2. React Slower

Yes – our whole lives we are told that you are only productive if you are fast. I’m calling it – it’s not the only way. If you can delay your responses even a tiny bit, you will still get by. Next time you get an email notification, give yourself some time before you jump to check and reply to it. There is no harm in waiting for 5 minutes (unless you are a doctor – then I would not recommend this rule)

3. Notice Your Behavior

Mobile over-usage is a problem. To understand whether or not it is effecting you, and to what extent, you should monitor your behavior. Every time you reach for your phone, make a note of the time. If you are checking your phone every 10-15 minutes for no good reason (i.e. no notification), then you do indeed have an attachment issue with your phone. This works in the same way that dieting works – if you watch what you eat, you’re less likely to overeat – so notice your own mobile usage behavior to help decrease it.

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Here’s to a better and healthier lifestyle. Mobile phones are here to stay and there is no going back now – so it’s important to develop the right habits before its too late. It’s our responsibility to help ourselves – after all – each to their own!

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36 thoughts on “Is My Smartphone Making Me Stupid?

  1. Oh no… the same thing is happening to me. I used to be such an avid reader. And now, it’s so difficult for me to get to a page without my attention and my hand wandering towards my mobile device.

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  2. This is one of the reasons why it has taken me so long to get a smartphone. I want to be more present with the people I am spending time with instead of being on my mobile device all the time.

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  3. Ohh dear.. I can totally relate! Perhaps I shouldn’t have bought one in the first place. My mum says that my phone and I are are always glued together, which is cruelly true. Notifications, email, twitter, messages – I’ve lost count how many times I check it per day.. And 150 is a really huge number, which is hard to deny.. 😀

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  5. I do spend several hours a day on my laptop, but at least 75% of it is reading. News, political articles etc The rest is probably shopping, facebook and emailing, BUT I refuse to use my phone in the same way. If I am on a longish bus journey, 30 minutes or so, I do tend to check facebook, but apart from that I rarely use any of the “smart” part of my phone. That is I use it as a phone only, for at least 95% of the time. I refuse to not notice what is going on around me and to not engage with people I am with, so I have to only use my smartphone as a phone! I have a pretty decent up to date phone, and have been known to play a game or read my emails on it when waiting for someone etc, but rarely. I know I couldn’t survive without a computer but a cell phone is just a handy convenience for me, one I could easily do without, I don’t, only because it’s good to have for talking or texting. I just believe the people I am with are more important than the people I am not with at that particular time, and when I see people forever checking their phones, when they are in the company of others I hate it, it’s like the person they are with isn’t important or something. Anyway that’s my moan over with lol People need to remember it’s JUST a phone, and maybe just use it as such except for occasionally.

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    • You have a lot of self control – and I admire it. I have built this reflex of checking my phone and social profiles almost every hour. It is an appalling habit and I am trying to break it now. Being connected with everyone 24/7 has it’s advantages, but there are some dramatic disadvantages that we only become aware of once we become the phone zombies. I’m going back to being a normal phone user, and hopefully it will be for the best!

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  6. I was thinking the same thing the other day! Sometimes I think that I am a slave to my phone but I try to use it in a more constructive way now I read books with Kindle and I listen to audio-books all the time I’m out walking or at the gym.

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  7. This is really true, it’s even made me resort to audio book so I can read- listen on the go.. Less to carry around and I can be in my own world lol and yes it’s my smart phone that enables this lol

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  8. I love this post. I have been making a concerted effort to stay away from my phone during the day. I love it, but hate being so attached to it! I used to get along just fine without it…what happened to me?!

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  9. Lucky me who owns an old Sony Ericsson 😛 hard to check Facebook on it when it can´t go online. Lately I´ve established no-technology zones. I found it displeasing for instance if I´m outdoors to disrupt with technology. I don´t take complete breaks all the time, but just an hour without technology works wonders.

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  10. All signs happen to me… Oh my God…

    Additional facts: I will be so panic if i leave home without smartphone etc, frequently check social media account (by now, I’m getting too addicted with Path and Mindtalk).

    Even i was having vacation in cozy villa, me and my friends still cant get our hands off of our phone. Totally scary and stupid but addicted pretty too much.

    Thank you for sharing 🙂 The most happy part is realizing that I’m not the only one…

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  11. I’ve actually always thought this! I just got a “smartphone” not that long ago, & can find myself doing lazier things just in my everyday life. I don’t know if that’s connected or not, but it is definitely something I need to be aware of!

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