Admit it or not, you’re addicted to your smartphone — in fact, chances are you’re reading this on a mobile device right now.
If smartphone addiction weren’t bad enough, you’ll also have to know there’s one other potential side-effect of using the smartphone: A new report from Time says smartphones also make us more easily distracted.
In fact, it seems that the more we interact with our mobile devices while we’re supposed to do something else, the more difficult it is for our brains to focus back on the matter at hand.
“Every time you switch your focus from one thing to another, there’s something called a switch-cost,” Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor of neuroscience Dr. Earl Miller told the publication. “Your brain stumbles a bit, and it requires time to get back to where it was before it was distracted.”
Getting distracted is even more dangerous if you’re doing something complex like work, which could explain while you might be less productive when playing with your smartphone all the time.
“You’re not able to think as deeply on something when you’re being distracted every few minutes,” Miller added. “And thinking deeply is where real insights come from.”
According to a study, it may take the brain from 15 to 25 minutes to get back to where it was after stopping to check an email. The MIT professor said that you don’t get better at it the longer you have used smartphones either.
Even though you could “fix” this by simply switching the phone or notifications off during work, your brain is still hooked on having to check the phone, the publication notes. There’s a name for this syndrome called “phantom text syndrome.”
Moreover, a 2014 study looking at people who spend a lot of time media multitasking tend to have less grey matter in the part of their brain involved with thought control and emotion control, and the same structural changes are associated with different medical conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, anxiety, and others.
These issues might affect youngsters even more than adults, as the brains of kids and adolescents have yet to be fully wired and could have further effects later into adulthood.
Time’s full article is available here.