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Studies Show Smartphones Are Bad

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Smartphones are the root of all evil. At least, that’s what a slew of studies that have been published during the last few months seem to be saying. According to these researchers, heavy smartphone usage can make you a dumb, uncreative insomniac who is lazy, probably pretty unsocial and unhealthy. Oh, and there isn’t much hope for you because you’re probably addicted too.

But, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.

Smartphones have become the new big scary threat to society–the latest in a long line of things that we all believe are slowly killing Americans and making the younger generations even worse than their parents were. But, while I love reading new reports and I am a firm believer in scientific study and research, I can’t help but feel like a lot of these studies are just plain misleading.

Anyone who has ever taken a research class in school could tell you that correlation does not mean causation. In other words, if I wear red socks and it rains, that doesn’t mean that my red socks are the reason that it rained. On that same line of thought, it’s a hard sell that heavy smartphone usage makes you dumb, as the most recent research suggests, or that smartphones make us lazy. As other studies have pointed out, most people fall in the ‘heavy smartphone usage’ category. So, are we all dumb and lazy? Maybe you shouldn’t answer that.

Here are some of the crazy facts and statistics that some of these reports have published:

  • A Kent State Study suggests that as cell phone use increased, college grade point average (GPA) decreased.
  • Another study suggested that there is an association between heavy smartphone use and lowered intelligence, although the study does say that they can’t determine if the smartphones are the cause of it or not
  • 84% of UK young adults experienced back pain during the last year due to hunching over smartphones/tablets/computers
  • 66% of people sampled in the UK and the US feared losing or being without their phone.
  • one in five people would rather go without shoes for a week than be with their phone.
  • One in three women would rather give up sex than go without their phone
  •  Children who slept near a smartphone get, on average, 20.6 fewer minutes of sleep, which adds up to quite a bit over a period of time
  • Researchers believe that smartphones are lessening the need to learn, and that fewer and fewer people are memorizing facts and analyzing; instead we use search engines.

It’s worth noting that a lot of these studies I’ve mentioned are from legitimate research facilities and well-respected universities. So I’m not going to try and sell you that they’re all fake (I’m sure they are not) or that I am more of an expert than a professor at a university (I most definitely am not). And, while they are scary, what I suggest is that these studies be taken for exactly what they are: the beginning stages of research on an important topic.

I have no doubt that there is probably some causation in most of these papers–the studies have some pretty compelling evidence–but I also can’t help but wonder if these studies are also simply showing what we all expect to see. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that cellular technology, internet and social media have had a far more profound impact on our society and culture than anyone could have predicted when these things were first introduced.

But that’s just what I think. What do you think? Are smartphones bad for our society? Share your thoughts with me in the comments!