New psychological studies explain how your smart phone is impacting your memory and thought process whether or not its even in the room.
Do you feel a moment of panic when you realize that you don’t know where your smartphone is? Psychologists have a word for the modern phobia of losing your phone: it’s called nomophobia.
The word is formed from combining ‘no,’ ‘mobile’ and ‘phobia.’ It’s closely related to another modern nightmare: FOBO – or the Fear Of Being Offline.
Why are we suddenly so afraid of being disconnected? Because we have outsourced our memories and even thinking to our devices. For a report called Understanding Nomophobia, scientists surveyed 300 students about their personalities, memories, and attachments to their phones.
Their results showed that the words related to memory and self were used interchangeably between the person and their device.
How much memory I have.
Share that with me.
Send it to me.
I have that.
This was particularly true in those participants with higher symptoms of nomophobia. (Physical symptoms included wrist and neck pain from frequent smartphone use.)
With our pictures, our favourite websites bookmarked, our contacts, and our media stored in one place, the smartphone has become a digital model of our personality. Its absence causes sensations of panic.
On the flip side: science has also shown how its presence makes you dumber.
A recent study was conducted at the University of Texas that measured the brain power of over 700 smartphone users to see how well they could perform on a a variety of tests and tasks to evaluate their cognitive abilities. At random, participants were asked to either keep their smartphones in their pockets, on the desk, or in a different room.
The results showed that the participants who put their phones in a different room, outperformed those who kept their smartphones in their pocket, and people who had their smartphone in their pockets outperformed those who had their smartphone on top of a desk.
The researchers concluded that the mere presence of the smartphone was enough to diminish cognitive ability – and the closer it is, the worse it gets. Basically, while we have the capacity to do math in our heads, spell correctly, and remember facts – we don’t have to perform these mental tasks if we are holding a handheld computer. If your phone is right there, your brain slacks off. When the device is physically out of the room, the brain starts to work harder.
But this also induces feelings of panic. Nomophobia. We can’t immediately look up information. We have to remember and reason for ourselves. Fear Of Being Offline.
Because we can record every moment and event on camera and video, we don’t need to remember them. It’s stored in our memory for later. Well, not our memory, exactly, but our smartphone’s. The two have become interchangeable. Does that mean that we were actually there in the moment? Did we experience the occasion, or did our phone?
We’ve outsourced our memory and much of our thinking to smartphones. Their very presence makes us dumber, but their absence makes us panic. Science confirms it. Our intelligence is now artificial.