Research Associate in Psychology, University of Virginia Kostadin Kushlev, recruited 221 students at the University of British Columbia to participate in a two-week study to look at the effects of smartphones on them.
During the first week, he asked half the participants to minimise phone interruptions by activating the “do-not-disturb” settings and keeping their phones out of sight and far from reach. We instructed the other half to keep their phone alerts on and their phones nearby whenever possible. In the second week participants who had used their phones’ “do-not-disturb” settings switched on phone alerts. The order in which we gave the instructions to each participant was randomly determined by a flip of a coin.
Then Kushlev measured inattentiveness and hyperactivity by asking participants to identify how frequently they had experienced 18 symptoms of ADHD over each of the two weeks. These items were based on the criteria for diagnosing ADHD in adults as specified by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V). The results were more frequent phone interruptions made people less attentive and more hyperactive.
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder and Kushlev is not saying that smartphones can cause ADHD, nut the findings suggest that people can act like it. He thinks that smartphones could be harming the productivity, relationships and well-being of millions.
” Our findings suggest that our incessant digital stimulation is contributing to an increasingly problematic deficit of attention in modern society. So consider silencing your phone – even when you are not in the movie theater. Your brain will thank you,” Kushlev wrote.