University of Texas Study Shows Smartphones Make You Less Smart

University of Texas Study Shows Smartphone Make You Less Smart
Photo by Flickr user CAFNR.

Most of us know that long exposure to our phones is not a good idea, but this study shows another aspect of our association with these devices. Just having it nearby has a negative effect on cognitive processes. The other important part of this study is that it was done by a major university and published in the local paper – very mainstream.

Your cognitive capacity is significantly reduced when your smartphone is within reach — even if it’s off. That’s the takeaway finding from a new study from the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin.

In one experiment, the researchers asked study participants to sit at a computer and take a series of tests that required full concentration in order to score well. The tests were geared to measure participants’ available cognitive capacity — that is, the brain’s ability to hold and process data at any given time. Before beginning, participants were randomly instructed to place their smartphones either on the desk face down, in their pocket or personal bag, or in another room. All participants were instructed to turn their phones to silent.

The researchers found that participants with their phones in another room significantly outperformed those with their phones on the desk, and they also slightly outperformed those participants who had kept their phones in a pocket or bag.

Ward and his colleagues also found that it didn’t matter whether a person’s smartphone was turned on or off, or whether it was lying face up or face down on a desk. Having a smartphone within sight or within easy reach reduces a person’s ability to focus and perform tasks because part of their brain is actively working to not pick up or use the phone. (Source)

The full study can be found here.

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7 Comments on "University of Texas Study Shows Smartphones Make You Less Smart"

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LindaHaving a smartphone within sight or within easy reach reduces a person’s ability to focus and perform tasks because part of their brain is actively working to not pick up or use the phone. I've been trying to shift my awareness of "harmful" technology by recognizing and honoring it as something helpful instead–in that it provides us with a wonderful way to exchange ideas and information! Whenever I find myself feeling at all concerned with the idea that something may be harmful now, I recognize it as simple energy–and I express my intent that anything not in alignment with my own and our collective highest good will do no harm whatsoever. Then I envision any potential harmful energy or effects dissipating and releasing back to Source for recycling. 🙂 I feel quite strongly that, as I get better at transmuting these energies, anything not aligned with our highest good will simply wither away (with my blessings and gratitude). Speaking of transmuting energies, etc., has anyone else noticed that the skies seem much more clear blue–and that there don't seem to be as much (or any) evidence of chemtrails about?? I'm in central California and haven't seen anything at all in… Read more »

LindaThis study was not about the physical effects of energy, etc. from smartphones. It was about people's dependence on them as a link to the world. They surmised from the data that when a device is nearby, a person is thinking about it – emails, messages, etc., but when it is removed, the person has more brain power to devote to tasks.

However, it just occurred to me that there was a flaw in the study parameters. In order to be sure it was just a person's dependence on his or her device, another phone should have been hidden in the room part of the time. That would be the only way to determine if it was dependence or actual energetic interference.

Whoops…sorry about that. I apparently misunderstood the gist of the article. :confused:

Hailstones Melt

I guess that some people have become so habituated to phone use, that their phone is their go to. It's like being handed a lolly on a plate, instead of having to go and make your own sandwich.


Great timing. I plan to show this article to my kids as we are on the cusp of 'the cell phone thing'.
It is a tough battle to fight when 'big' else has one's…and they do, indeed. Tough for this generation to socialize without one, I am told (in all seriousness, as the kids without get left out of plans).
This may help!


I just promoted this thread to an article on the front page, but for the first time did it a bit differently.

I was able to assign this existing thread, and link it to the article posted.

This means that all comments that exist will now show up on the article on the front page (here), and there is no other thread posted on the forum. This will stop duplication and will stop me having to close threads and explain the situation, etc.

So for example, this is the new article:, but it's connected to this thread here on the forum (…dy-shows-smartphone-make-you-less-smart.3214/). As to where you read this writing, it could be on either link.

Great post Linda and it's information I consider really important.