We know they’re keeping you up at night, they make Halloween costumes super cool, and they’re pretty addicting, but are smartphones really making you stupider? Well, not quite—but the news isn’t great.
A study published in Computers and Cognitive Behaviour has found that people who rely on their smartphones more than others tend not to be very deep thinkers. Researchers asked a group of people how often they used their smartphones for information (for example, looking up a familiar route on Google Maps instead of thinking about it for a few minutes). They then had everyone do a set of problems that determined whether they were intuitive thinkers (i.e., they rely on their gut) or analytical thinkers (i.e., they think a problem through). Here’s an example of on of those problems:
“A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?”
Okay, thought it through? The correct answer is five cents.
The intuitive answer to that question is ten cents—an intuitive thinker goes with the response that looks right and leaves it at that. However, an analytical thinker might think ten cents is right initially—but analytical thinkers also go back and check their work, realising that if the ball was ten cents, that would put the total amount at $1.20 instead of $1.10. It’s actually a pretty simple problem.
So, thoroughly annoyed yet? Well, you could always choose to rely a bit less on your smartphone and think things through instead of Googling them. Just a thought.