A recent study found that banning mobile phones at schools improved student performance. This effect was most pronounced for struggling students. The rise of smartphones means people can be contacted by others at any time, anywhere. But is this connectivity always good? What happens if you are on your mobile phone too much? Here are some reasons to put your phone away.
Excessive mobile phone use leads to poor concentration. Having your phone out whilst doing homework or revision can make students perform 20% worse. The authors of this study go on to state that “the mere presence of a cell phone may be sufficiently distracting to damage attention".
Adolescents often experience Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). This is made worse with mobile phones and the rise of social media, driving the compulsive need to know what others are doing. Those who develop FOMO will experience lower overall mood, increased anxiety, and are more likely to check their phones during lessons or study time.
Thankfully, there are ways to overcome this FOMO, such as focusing on the present moment, avoiding multi-tasking or limiting social media time.
Phone messages and notifications are distracting and disrupt tasks, such as studying, causing goals of the tasks to be forgotten. This is apparent to anyone watching a student revising or doing their homework with their phone next to them. A different school of thought suggests that a reduction in memory may be due to the waves emitted by mobile phones.
This would explain why participants in this study who used mobile phones excessively had slower response times in memory tasks. These other studies here and here also make interesting reading. The authors of this meta-analysis confirmed that the waves of mobile phones do have an impact on memory, though noting that the effect sizes are small.
Warps view on reality
Social media presents a distorted view on reality. No-one is as happy as they seem on Facebook or as wise as they appear on Twitter. By nature, we then compare our lives to these false realities. This comparison to others can be stressful, promoting a fear of failure. It can also encourages FOMO.
Stress and anxiety
Excessive use of mobile phones is bad for your psychological health. Constant over-use of mobile phones leads to increased anxiety, feelings of loneliness, and low self-esteem. Reliance on mobile phones can also cause irritation, frustration, and impatience when they cannot be used.
Makes you sleep worse
Phone use every day and for longer than 20 minutes at a time will lead to poor sleep quality and duration. Those who have their mobiles in the bedroom sleep for shorter durations than those who don’t. One possible reason is that the brightness of the backlight on your phone delays the sleep hormone, melatonin, from being released, keeping you awake for longer.
Ways to fall asleep more easily include having a regular sleep schedule, exercising a couple of hours before bedtime, a hot bath or, obviously, avoiding screens at night.
For more reasons to put your phone away, and for all the information you need about mobile phone addiction, read our handy guide.