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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Some Cell Phone Features Favor Speed Over Accuracy

Some Cell Phone Features Favor Speed Over Accuracy

A recent study by researchers in Australia shows that increased cell phone use is connected with cognitive function in young adults. Specifically, the study found that “the accuracy of working memory was poorer, reaction time for a simple learning task shorter, associative learning response time shorter and accuracy poorer in children reporting more mobile phone voice calls.”

The following are some highlights of this report, quoted directly from the Bioelectromagnetics journal article. The full text can be found by clicking here.

  • Greater mobile phone use was related to poorer accuracy on working memory and associative learning tasks.
  • Children who used mobile phones more were faster but less accurate on a number of tasks, suggesting they may be more impulsive than other children, favoring a quick, and not accurate, solution. This could be traced to functions such as ‘predictive texting,’ a feature that trains the user, in effect, to favor speed over accuracy.
  • Students who reported making or receiving more voice or SMS calls per week, and in particular more of both, demonstrated shorter response times on learning tasks, but less accurate working memory.
  • Those who reported making or receiving more voice calls per week also exhibited poorer inhibitory function

This study is a reminder that we need to help our children (and ourselves) limit the time spent using today’s wide array of connected technologies. Spending too much time texting and talking by phone robs them of the richness of face-to-face communication, as well as the opportunity to think and develop patience.


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