These days, people are so glued to their smartphones or digital devices that they wouldn’t dare spend an entire day with their phone left at home or turned off. In fact, for some teens and youth, having their phone taken away or lost is what they might describe as “miserable.”
Yes, our smartphones help us find a phone number quickly, provide us with instant directions and recommend restaurants, but new research indicates that this convenience at our fingertips is making it easy for us to avoid thinking for ourselves.
The study, from researchers at the University of Waterloo and published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, suggests that smartphone users who are intuitive thinkers — more prone to relying on gut feelings and instincts when making decisions — frequently use their device’s search engine rather than their own brainpower. Smartphones allow them to be even lazier than they would otherwise be.
“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,” said Gordon Pennycook, co-lead author of the study, and a PhD candidate in the Department of Psychology at Waterloo.
In three studies involving 660 participants, the researchers examined various measures including cognitive style ranging from intuitive to analytical, plus verbal and numeracy skills. Then they looked at the participants’ smartphone habits.
Participants in the study who demonstrated stronger cognitive skills and a greater willingness to think in an analytical way spent less time using their smartphones’ search-engine function.
“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.”
The researchers say that avoiding using our own minds to problem-solve might have adverse consequences for aging.
Information gathered from Science Daily.