BE­HIND THE SMART­PHONE BACK­LASH

Smart­phone fa­tigue is real and it’s mak­ing us put our phones down

Popular Mechanics (South Africa) - - Con­tents - BY J AC­QUE­LINE DE T WI L ER

AN­TE­RIOR CI NGU­LATE COR­TEX

Peo­ple who do more me­dia mul­ti­task­ing – such as look­ing at a smart­phone while watch­ing TV – per­form worse on cog­ni­tive con­trol tasks and have a smaller den­sity of gray mat­ter in the an­te­rior cin­gu­late cor­tex, a brain re­gion as­so­ci­ated with ex­ec­u­tive func­tion. – Loh and Kanai, PLOS One, 2014

RI GHT PRE­FRONTAL COR­TEX

In com­par­i­son with non-users, heavy smart­phone users show im­paired at­ten­tion, lower abil­ity to process num­bers, and re­duced ex­citabil­ity in the right pre­frontal cor­tex, an area as­so­ci­ated with de­ci­sion-mak­ing. – Hadar et al., PLOS One, 2017

NU­CLEUS AC­CUM­BENS

A higher daily fre­quency of check­ing Face­book on a smart­phone was as­so­ci­ated with smaller gray mat­ter vol­umes in the nu­cleus ac­cum­bens, a brain re­gion as­so­ci­ated with track­ing re­wards such as food and sex. – Mon­tag et al., Be­hav­ioral Brain Re­search, 2017

SEN­SORY I NTE­GRA­TION

Peo­ple who do more me­dia mul­ti­task­ing may have a stronger abil­ity to in­te­grate in­for­ma­tion from mul­ti­ple sen­sory chan­nels. They may spread their at­ten­tion to dif­fer­ent sources of in­for­ma­tion re­gard­less of whether they are rel­e­vant to the task at hand. – Lui and Wong, Psy­cho­nomic Bul­letin & Re­view, 2012

PI NEAL GLAND

Ex­po­sure to just two hours of blue light from a back­lit tablet de­lays the re­lease of mela­tonin, a sleep­pro­mot­ing chem­i­cal, from the pineal gland by about 22 per­cent. – Figueiro et al., Ap­plied Er­gonomics, 2013

HIP­POCAM­PUS

Older peo­ple who ha­bit­u­ally use GPS to get around had less ac­tiv­ity, and a lower volume of gray mat­ter, in the hip­pocam­pus than older peo­ple who are used to nav­i­gat­ing by land­marks and vis­ual cues. – Bo­hbot et al., Society for Neu­ro­science an­nual meet­ing, 2010

WARN­ING SI GN

My stu­dents keep their cell­phones face­down on their desks, but if you watch, they’re flip­ping it over ev­ery, I don’t know, two min­utes? It’s like it’s a ner­vous tic. – Nate Malenke, ad­junct pro­fes­sor, James Madi­son Univer­sity ( has never owned a smart­phone)

DIS­TORTED PER­SPEC­TIVE

I guessed I was on my phone for an hour, but it ended up be­ing two. I con­stantly hear that kind of un­der­es­ti­ma­tion of how much peo­ple use their phone, by about 100 per­cent. Peo­ple ex­pect the num­ber to be half as much as it ac­tu­ally is. – Kevin Holesh, founder of the smart­phone-use-tracker Mo­ment

AD­DIC­TION?

Forty-two per­cent of peo­ple look at their phone within the first 10 min­utes of be­ing eing awake. – Eero Data Re­port, Oc­to­ber 2017 7

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