Smartphones have jumped in sales over the years, and more than 50% of Americans own a smartphone. While you may love the fact that your smartphone can help you accomplish anything—pay bills, shop online, do math equations, find directions, and provide you with instant access to the Internet—some have wondered if smartphones are actually making us dumber.
Think back to a time before smartphones, and think of what you did when you needed to find information or solve problems. True, you may have turned to the Internet, but since it wasn’t so readily available, you also used the power of your own brain to figure out the best solution or think back to what you may have learned years ago. Today, you don’t have to remember anything.
Think about it. With a smartphone, you don’t have to remember phone numbers, you don’t have to remember directions, and you certainly don’t need to remember how to do basic math problems, and this is not benefiting you in any way. Yes, you may think that you don’t need to know anything as long as you have your smartphone, but what happens if you lose it—or what happens if we experience some type of electronic overload and the world shuts down?
Although it’s not likely, it’s a good idea to be able to use your brain to solve problems instead of relying on smartphones. Smartphones are helpful, but you shouldn’t become dependent on it.
Some people today have even stopped focusing so much on important issues, such as their school work, job or even their family, because they know that when the time comes to need to know what information is being shared, there will be a smartphone around that can provide them with the information.
And it’s not just all the readily available information that’s hurting our brains; it’s also the constant distraction. Think about it. When you really want to concentrate on something, you tend to turn out all background noise and remove yourself from distractions. You turn off the TV or the radio and you may even go into a room where you’re all by yourself. This deep concentration allows your brain to fully process what it is that you’re doing and give you a better chance at remembering it.
Smartphones, though, become a distraction. You no longer concentrate on the task at hand if you’re constantly distracted by emails, text messages, push notifications, phone calls and social media. You’re keeping your brain too busy, and by the time it’s ready to fully process the email you just read, you have already moved on to checking Facebook or answering a text message. This type of behavior teaches your brain to work in quicker, choppy ways and doesn’t provide it with the ability to store valuable information.
The next time you’re faced with needing to solve a problem, take a few minutes and try to figure it out yourself before turning to Siri or Google to help you figure it out. You may just be surprised at what you can accomplish on your own if you simply take the time to put your mind to it.
Charlie Adams is a tech guru and writer who loves to analyze the role of technology and understand its place in a modern world.