Do Smart Phones Make Us Dumb?

From tweens and teens to baby boomers, thirty something’s and great grandparents, people of every age use, love and rely on smart phones.

Forget the days when your phone doubled as a dumbbell and was limited to being, well, a phone. Today’s phones offer instant fact confirmation – perfect for ruining dinner party debates.

Cameras (moving and still), editing software, music, games, calendars and GPS navigators are all standard features of the modern phone. Of course, if you have one, this is old news.

But with information on standby at the swipe of a touch screen, are our brains getting lazier? Clinical Neuropsychologist Dr Eva Svoboda says smart phones may not be as bad for our brains as we think.

Dr Svoboda contends that the act of entering and extracting information is mentally stimulating. She uses the smart phone calendar to highlight the various cognitive strategies employed when adding a reminder, including:

  • Working out what will be added, which draws attention to the information – a vital step to remembering information.
  • Avoiding scheduling conflicts by planning where to place an appointment.
  • Engaging the motor cortex of our brain by physically entering data. The visual cortex and language processing networks are also engaged when we compose and re-read entries.

These cognitive strategies create more neural pathways for us to retrieve information later. This is why people are able to remember entry details when their smart phone is not available.

With so many new apps, gadgets and upgrades, we are constantly learning new processes and technologies. As such, it is unlikely that our mental capabilities will be affected by using smart phones.

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