Nearly everyone in the United States—95 percent of the population, according to the Pew Research Center—owns a cell phone of some kind. And smartphone adoption is at 77 percent, up 35 percent from 2011. Certainly, there are benefits to everyone walking around with a mini computer in-hand all the time. Like Maps, for one. (It’s hard to remember what it was like to have to ask for directions to a destination, isn’t it?) But what about all the downsides? A couple of evils that come immediately to mind: Texting and driving as well as people being head-down instead of paying attention to what the person across from them is saying. Here are a few more reasons why stashing your phone might be a good practice to adopt.
1. Your smartphone actually drains your brain.
Your ability to think drops markedly when your smartphone is in reach, even if it’s silenced or powered down. That’s according to researchers at the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin who studied nearly 800 smartphone users who took computerized tests which necessitated full concentration in order to score well. The tests were designed to measure cognitive capacity and participants were instructed to silence or turn off their smartphones and place them face down on the desk, in a pocket or personal bag or in another room. The people who kept their phones in another room significantly outperformed the ones who kept them nearby. Apparently, the notifications people get on their phones aren’t the problem. Merely having a phone within reach makes it harder to focus because a percentage of the brain has to actively work to not pick up or use the device.
2. The Facebook app on your phone isn’t good for you.
Considering 1.28 billion people use Facebook every day, chances are if you have a smartphone, you have the Facebook app loaded onto it. And what do you do when bored? You probably kill time by scrolling through your feed to see what your “friends” are posting. Yet countless studies have been conducted regarding how its use affects people. In fact, researchers have found that the more you use Facebook, the worse you feel and that quitting the social network actually leads to higher levels of well-being.
3. Your smartphone could be negatively affecting your sleep.
Researchers at the University of California San Francisco calculated the amount of time 653 people spent looking at their phone’s screen within 30-day windows. On average, the study participants spent 38.4 hours on smartphone screentime within this timeframe. “Longer average screen-time was associated with shorter sleep duration and worse sleep-efficiency,” the authors write. “Longer average screentimes during bedtime and the sleeping period were associated with poor sleep quality, decreased sleep efficiency, and longer sleep onset latency.”