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Are Smartphones Making Us Dumb? Device Overuse Linked To Forgetfulness, Psychologists Say

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If you frequently miss an appointment, forget to bring your things or daydream while others are talking, there’s a good chance that you spend too much time on your smartphone. Frequent use of smartphones and the Internet are more likely to experience cognitive failures in daily life arising from forgetfulness, inattention and a lack of awareness of one’s surroundings, a new research reported from psychologists at De Montfort University in Leicester, England.

According to The Huffington Post, the researchers studied 210 British mobile phone users between the ages of 18 and 65. The average weekly Internet use among the participants was about 23 hours. The participants answered questions about the amount of time they spent using the Internet and mobile devices, and about their behaviors related to perception, motor function and memory.

Dr. Lee Hadlington, a psychologist at De Montfort University and the study’s lead author, told the Huffington in an email that the results of the research “really was an eye-opener,” “I was very surprised that both problematic mobile phone use and internet addiction was so strongly correlated to… cognitive failures.”

The results revealed a significant correlation between the amount of time a person spends using the Internet or their mobile phone and their likelihood of experiencing cognitive failures in their daily lives, including memory errors, silly blunders and inattentiveness in conversations.

Meanwhile, the study also revealed that the female subjects tend to experience more cognitive failures than the male subjects.

The researchers admit it is not clear yet on whether excessive use of smartphones and Internet actually cause the cognitive failures. But considering a wide range of factors, Dr. Hadlington is convinced that too much time spent on mobile phones affects people. He added that aspects of mobile technology are creating a situation where many individuals, who may be prone to distraction and lack of focus, find the lure of technology too hard to resist.

Hadlington and the other researchers suggest that people should at least spend less time online to focus more on their daily lives, “The Internet is great, mobile phones are great, but there is a point at which we need to sit back, log off and really start to think about how technology is impacting on our capacity to focus.”

“We are always eager to get the new piece of tech – but not to think about its underlying consequences to our cognitive capabilitites,” Hadlington finally said.

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Stefano Capasso

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