Can’t Put Down the Cellphone? How Smartphones are Changing Our Brains – and Lives
In an age where landline phone numbers seem like relics of the past, smartphones have become an indispensable part of our daily lives. From communication and entertainment to productivity and navigation, these pocket-sized devices have revolutionized how we interact with the world. Yet smartphones have also come to play a vital role in our brains, changing who we are and how we think. The smartphone is like our body’s built-in GPS.
It helps us navigate our environment and makes us more efficient at finding what we want when we need it, whether it’s directions to the post office or the nearest restaurant. It helps us notice opportunities for interaction, like calling up a person’s contact information quickly while waiting in line. At the same time, smartphones have made us lazy regarding how many things we do here. This article will examine how cellphones alter us and the possible implications of our fixation with these digital companions.
1. The Brain’s Response:
Our brains are wired to seek novelty and rewards, and smartphones are expertly designed to trigger these responses. When we check our phones, we might get a social media update or an email from a friend. Since these events are new and exciting, our brain releases dopamine to reward us for paying attention. The dopamine makes us feel good and motivates us to keep checking. Our brains have an incredible ability to learn from rewards and punishments. This is why playing games on your smartphone feels so rewarding: it reinforces the behaviour of checking your phone repeatedly.
2. Changing Communication:
Landline phone numbers, once the lifeline of communication, have been relegated to the background. Instead, we have adopted our phones’ contact lists to contact family and friends. The average young adult spends over 2 hours on their phone daily, and about a third of that time is spent communicating with others. Millennials use their phones to send about 120 texts daily, while older adults are likelier to talk. Yet stand-alone devices are becoming increasingly irrelevant in the modern world. We use our smartphones not just for communication but also for entertainment when we’re bored or lonely.
3. Work and Productivity:
Smartphones are changing how we work and improve productivity by helping us focus on what’s essential while ignoring distractions. In one study, participants were asked to play various games while completing word searches on a smartphone. Researchers found that the game participants completed an average of 145 words per minute. Meanwhile, people without smartphones did just as well but spent 2 minutes more time playing the game. The scientists concluded that smartphones make us less efficient but faster and have helped make multitasking commonplace.
4. The Attractiveness of Smartphones:
A recent study revealed that people judge others more harshly when they use smartphones. The researchers found that face-to-face conversations are more likely to be judged on trustworthiness and competence while talking on the phone is less credible. In addition, smartphone users are often perceived as having lower status and less potential for advancement in the future than those who don’t use their phones constantly during social interactions. Cellphones have even disrupted romance. Researchers found that couples who used their cellphones to chat or text placed fewer boundaries on their relationships than those who did not use a cellphone while dating.
5. The rise of the smartphone:
The mobile phone industry pioneered the concept of a “new phone every year.” However, smartphone makers have been focusing on minor upgrades like improved cameras. While smartphones are changing us dramatically, they are also on their way out. The next significant technological shift could be wearable devices such as Google Glass, watches or fitness trackers that alert us to important information like breaking news and weather updates. These new devices present a way to interact with technology in brand new ways while continuing to challenge our brains and our behaviour.
Cellphones are similar to magic wands. They allow us to work remotely, be instantly in touch with anyone from anywhere, and do things we could only dream of doing before they existed. Yet smartphones have also turned us into lazy, distracted creatures who rarely leave home without our digital companions. They are changing the way we live, work and interact with others. As our brains adapt to the constant presence of cellphones as a source of information and entertainment, smartphones may alter how we think and look at the world.