New psychology research on the positive effects of keeping that smartphone in your pocket

Assumption College Undergraduate

The 2014 Pearson Student Mobile Device survey found 84 percent of college students own a smartphone. And American smartphone owners spend an average of two hours and 57 minutes a day on their phone. This growth in usage doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

Their rise in use, in fact, has brought a new fear to forefront: nomophobia — the fear of being without your cell phone. A recent survey of 1,000 by tech security company SecurEnvoy, found that 77 percent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 24 noted this fear.

psychology students research smartphonesAt last year’s Semi-Annual Psychology Department Poster Session, Assumption College students presented on related topics, including “The Relationship Among Locus of Control, Self-Regulation, and Cell Phone Dependency in College Students” and “Smartphone Dependency and Quality of Sleep Among Undergraduate Students.”

Nonetheless, people who have been intentional about leaving behind their devices, claim to have appreciated and enjoyed the experience. Studies show there is value in letting your self be bored.

Psychology Professor Dr. Sandi Mann of the University of Central Lancashire in the U.K.  conducted a study where she had participants perform really boring tasks immediately followed by creative tasks. Those who came up with the most creative ideas were the ones who had just completed the most boring task just prior — reading the phonebook.

“When we’re bored we’re searching for something to stimulate us, so we might go off in our heads to try and find that stimulation by our minds wandering, daydreaming. You start thinking a little bit beyond the conscious, a little bit into the subconscious, which allows sort of different connections to take place,” Dr. Mann said on NPR last week.

Manoush Zamorodi, host of WNYC podcast New Tech City has been reporting on Mann’s research, as well as on a project called “Bored and Brilliant: The lost art of spacing out.”

“Psychologists and neuroscientists have only just started to study what the consequences could be of disrupting that rest function,” Zamorodi explains, “Our brains are doing some really important work when we think we’re doing nothing. So research suggests we get our most original ideas when we stop the constant stimulation and we let ourselves get bored.”

Interested in cutting back your own electronic use? Check out apps like Moment to help you keep track of time spent on your device.

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