Effects of Smartphones on Cognitive Capacity

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The Effects of Technology on Cognitive Capacity

The human species has benefited significantly from technological breakthroughs. With just a smartphone or laptop, people may access any location in the globe, online shopping, real-time news, and entertainment (Ward et al., 140). But, these advantages have rendered people blind, preventing them from recognizing the negative side effects that technology is causing. In addition to negative effects like marital breakdown and invasion of privacy, there is a substantial effect that is escalating. The usage of technology, particularly cellphones, has had an impact on users' cognitive abilities. This is the ability of an individual to use the brain and make decisions. These skills deal with the mechanisms of how the people learn, remember, solve problems and pay attention to matters. Some of the aspects that have been affected by the use of smartphones include the distractions that cause accidents on the roads because using the phone during driving decreases the ability to make decisions (Ward et al., 146). This is a paper which discusses the effects of the technology especially the use of smartphones on the cognitive capacity of individuals.

The Opposing Side of Smartphone Usage

The most opposing side of the use of smartphones is that it causes the brain drain by affecting the cognitive capacity measures of working memory and functional fluid intelligence. The presence of the Smartphone in one's hands is capable of causing limited capacity in performing the other tasks because it controls the attention of the individual. In a human being, the entire concentration is controlled by a finite pool of attentional resources, and hence the use of these phones takes a more significant precedence affecting the performance of other tasks. The limited cognitive capacity, therefore, affects the behaviors of the individuals in many ways.

The Impact on Working Memory and Fluid Intelligence

The Working Memory of an individual can be defined as the cognitive system that is responsible for supporting the compound cognition. It involves the aspects such as the selection, maintenance, and processing of any information that is relevant to the goals and determine an individual has set. This means that the smartphones come with a form of addiction that results into may people losing focus on pressing matters to attend to their phones. This can be explained by the presence of many features that can be supported by these devices such that every time one is using the phone they can easily access the internet and the information from all over the world. This addiction is one of the effects that lead to poor performance in other tasks. Fluid intelligence, on the other hand, refers to the ability of an individual to solve problems by using reason and not the acquired skills. This, therefore, means that an individual who has greater fluid intelligence can come up with a solution whenever they are faced with a problem without necessarily having skills that are related to the problem. Therefore, using the smartphones has made it difficult for the individuals to develop their cognitive abilities towards such aspects as improving the fluid intelligence or the working memory. This is because generally, it occupies the limited attentional resources in an individual leaving no room for the other tasks to be performed mentally. From the research carried out by Adrian et al., it is clear that the use of the smartphones especially when the individuals undertake urgent tasks, can lead to poor performance. This is because the students who had the phones at a proximity performed worse than those whose phones were far from them. It is clear that when a phone is near, one is tempted to keep looking or thinking of the things happening. From this research also it is clear that the more the people are used to staying with their smartphones, the worst they perform in cognitive tests.

The Relevance of Smartphone Addiction

It is important to note that all these effects on the cognitive capacity of the individuals are controlled by the relevance put on them. People who much depend on them have more impacts on their ability to perform other activities as opposed to those who are less addicted. According to Paul, the use of social media such as the facebook has left so many people addicted and unable to perform other tasks efficiently. Justin Rosenstein who was one of the founders of the “like” button in facebook finds out that this feature has negatively affected the people instead of building them (Paul, 12). People addicted to using social media cannot stay without looking at their phones. Hence other activities receive less attention. This means that it affects the performance and productivity of individuals as well as the social relationships between families. Most of the time parents and the children cannot interact because of Smartphone addiction.

Poor Working Memory and Reduced Intelligence

The other effect of this increased use of the smartphones is that it causes poor working memory and reduced intelligence levels (Barr, 476). Our intelligence is based on the ability to transfer the information from the working memory to the long-term memory. The latter has unlimited capacity whereas the former has limited space to store data. It, therefore, means that when there is a distraction from what we are saving in the short-term memory, there is a significant possibility of losing this information. Smartphones come with a lot of features that are very attracted to individuals. This means that whenever they are working on important things that require attention, and they turn to the phones, there is a high possibility of losing concentration and forgetting on what they were doing (Barr, 480). As such, there is a high likelihood of suffering from memory loss because the important thing in the short term memory is all wiped out of the mind. It affects the ability to perform tasks simultaneously, problem-solving, and affects individuals working memory.

Reducing Brain Drain

To mitigate the brain drain that is caused by the use of smartphones, it is essential to understand that the separation can reduce the effect of reducing the cognitive capacity of an individual. When a phone is close to the individual, it is likely that one will have the anxiety to keep looking at what is happening (Ward et al., 149). People will also respond to the notifications on their phones as their names. Therefore, giving a distance gives the brain the ability to focus on other vital issues and perform better. Separation distance reduces the interruptions between performances of tasks and hence provides better results. According to Ward et al., the mere presence of smartphones affects the cognitive capacity of individuals even when they are turned off (148). This is because there are constant distraction and anxiety built such that each time instead of performing the tasks well with enough concentration people tend to keep thinking of the smartphones and the features that are present. Therefore, as Rosenstein puts it, sometimes what seemed as good technology may end up bringing adverse effects (Paul, 5). The solution to this is, therefore, adopting to live without this addiction. This means that it is possible for people to come out and limit their use of smartphones. It can be done by ensuring that the features that are available are controlled in the phone. For Rosenstein, a parental control feature that provided that he cannot download the apps was enough to limit his use of social media (Paul, 7). Reducing the use of the Smartphone is essential in ensuring those with reduced cognitive capacity work towards developing it back.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, technology is a good aspect that has introduced significant benefits in the world. It has made it possible for people in any part of the world to be able to communicate. It has also made the world a place where one can buy and sell from anywhere. As such, it has significantly been embraced by all. This does not mean that no adverse effects are arising from its use. The use of smartphones has contributed to the reduction in the ability of people to use their cognitive skills in decision making. There is a growing effect where the people tend to give more precedence to using their smartphones as opposed to other tasks. Bearing the limited intentional capacity, this has resulted in poor performance in the other relevant tasks. Since the human memory must transfer information from the short term memory to the long-term memory for remembrance, it is essential that no distractions occur during this process. Smartphone distractions are therefore causing decreased intelligence in people and mind. Smartphones should, thus, be kept away from the people so that they are not distracted as they perform other tasks.

Works cited

Barr, Nathaniel, et al. "The brain in your pocket: Evidence that Smartphones are used to supplant thinking." Computers in Human Behavior 48 (2015): 473-480.

Paul, Lewis. “Our Minds Can be Hijacked: The Tech Insiders Who Fear a Smartphone Dystopia. Accessed on 26 October 2017. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com › Technology › Smartphones

Ward, Adrian F., et al. "Brain Drain: The Mere Presence of One’s Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity." Journal of the Association for Consumer Research 2.2 (2017): 140-154.

May 17, 2023
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