Many teachers and parents worry about the impact of technology on our students/kids and ourselves. While there are many good things about technology (and cell phones in particular), research is now showing that just having your phone on your desk, even though it is turned off, results in poorer performance on demanding cognitive tasks than if the cell phone is out of sight and in another room. The results were mixed when the cell phone was out of sight but nearby. The difference was the strongest for students who reported being very attached to their phones (can’t get through the day without it). Interestingly, all the participants reported that they were NOT thinking about their cell phones during the process. The exact mechanism of the impact is not thoroughly understood, but even having the phone present seems to impact working memory and attention. So, if you are going to need to really concentrate on a cognitively demanding activity, it is probably best to turn that cell phone off, and put it somewhere where you can’t see it, preferably in another room altogether.
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