Your Brain Doesn't Recharge If You Use Your Phone on Break
cell phone addiction

Your Brain Doesn’t Recharge If You Use Your Phone on Break

cell phone addiction

It’s funny (and freighting) at the amount of time people spend on their phones. Go to any cafe in the morning, and take a look around at what others are doing. You’ll see some folks reading a book or a paper (which we encourage!), especially if they are on a break from work. Although, chances are the majority of people waiting are on their smartphones.

A break is a break, right?

So as long as you’re not doing your day-to-day duties, you’re taking time away to unwind for a bit before heading back to the office. It may seem like no difference, reading an article in a paper or on a website, but studies show there is. In a research paper from Rutgers University, Reach for your cell phone at your own risk: The cognitive costs of media choice for breaks, Kang Sanghoon and Terri R. Kurtzberg took a look at 414 people and cell phone behavior. Study participants completed a series of conatively demanding tasks, like solving algorithms while taking breaks in between. Sanghoon and Kurtzberg broke up the study into four conditions where participants took different types of breaks. Some looked at a cellphone screen as they waited for the next task, while others did not. In the fourth condition, participants received no break from the tasks whatsoever. 

The study concluded that those who looked at a screen on their break did worse solving the algorithms afterward. By these results, “taking a break” should mean that you actually do so. Kurtzberg explains, “It is important to know the costs associated with reaching for this device during every spare minute. We assume it’s no different from any other break—but the phone may carry increasing levels of distraction that make it difficult to return focused attention to work tasks.” As a society dependent upon technology, it is more common for people to reach for devices. Perusing around on social media for many people counts as a break. 

Cell phone addiction is a real thing

Forbes contributor Alice G. Walton cites in her article, Phone Addiction Is Real — And So Are Its Mental Health Risks, different studies that show the effects cell phones have on a person. In one study, two business schools in Italy and France asked their students to give up their phones for a few days. Students quickly became lost without them. Having no access to apps like Uber or Grubhub, and all the other apps that make life easier, threw them through a loop. They reported feeling anxious and having too much time on their hands. Students also said that they became more aware of how much time others around them are on their phones.

Different ways to take a break from your smartphone

  • Set time restrictions on how long you use your phone. Of course, you’ll need to use it to make a call or snap a photo, so make them realistic restrictions.
  • Create a space where no cell phones are allowed. This could mean something as small as the dining room table, or as large as your TV den. Pick a spot where it can be out of sight, out of mind.
  • Buy an alarm clock. Using the old fashion alarm clock will help reduce the urge to have your smartphone be the first thing you see in the morning. 
  • Take a tech-free vacation. Go off the grid and let family, friends, and work know that you will be without a phone. This is an easier way to see what it is like to reduce your smartphone use, rather than going cold turkey. See what it feels like, and perhaps you won’t feel as attached to it when you return. 
  • Read!

When you think about how this theory applies to your own life, there are a lot of mistakes that you could make by not giving your eyes a rest. For both professionals and students, a missed moment here, or a lapse of memory there, is too scary to even think about. Rather than grab your phone on your break, reach for a book. Here at Iris Reading, we love a good reading challenge! If you’re looking to push yourself this year to reduce screen time, take a look at some of our Reading Challenges. We’ve compiled a resource for you to reignite the passion for reading.

Speed reading can help you achieve your goal of getting off the phone and deep into the greatest novel of all time. Once you learn to speed read, you’ll start to see the benefits of it in other aspects of life. Your memory will become stronger and speed reading can help you become a more productive individual.

Learn more about all of our courses today!

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