Recent studies have indicated that as phones get smarter, people get dumber. Smart phones make people less capable of focusing, learning, and problem solving. People are relying on the phone, and not their brain, to store and analyze information, according to a recent ABC News report.
In fact, Apple says their users unlock their phones an average of 80 times per day. Attention is a precious commodity for the human brain and a study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology showed that hearing a phone's buzz or beep while engaged in a challenging task causes people to lose focus and produce sloppier work.
Further studies, like one in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, showed that hearing a phone ring without the ability to answer it caused a spike in blood pressure, a quickened pulse, and a decline in problem-solving ability. These findings support the claim that phones can diminish focus, logic, learning, and problem solving by distracting users even when the devices are in the background.
When it comes to intelligence performance, researchers at the University of California, San Diego, performed an experiment to see how the presence of a smart phone would affect scores on an IQ test among their subjects. During the test, each third of the subjects were asked to either leave their phones outside the testing room, leave them in their pockets, or place them on the table in front of them while taking the test. The results showed that performance was highest among those who left their phones outside and lowest among those who left them in view on the table. Secondary tests by the same team revealed that performance dropped the most among subjects who relied on their phones the most in their day-to-day lives.
A big part of the reason for this mental decline, according to the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, is that phones force the mind to work harder at paying attention. When a person tries to suppress the need to check a smart phone, it actually diverts cognitive resources to that task and leaves less on the table for the work at hand.