“I don’t have time anymore to read.” Have you ever heard someone say this? I get it. People are stressed out and busy. But let’s take a look at how people actually spend their time.

  • 16 minutes a day on reading 
  • 2,2 hours watching TV.
  • 6,6 hours on the internet!

Your phone is the enemy

So what is the biggest enemy of reading? The biggest enemy of reading is your phone. And what exactly happens to your brain when you spend a lot of time on your smartphone? It shrinks. 

Multitasking shrinks your brain

The more time you spend multitasking on your phone and switching back and forth between tasks, the less grey matter you will have in a part of the brain relevant for attention and executive control: The Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC). You might think that the more you practice, the better you get at multitasking. But the opposite is true. The more you multitask, the worse it gets.

Media multitasking damages your brain and destroys your ability to fully focus.

Texting is like marijuana

“Would you smoke marijuana before you get into the driver’s seat? “Most people would say no.

“Would you spend hours on your phone before you drive?” That's exactly what people do all the time. What they don't know is that the impact on their driving could be similar to smoking pot. 

Research has shown that the effect of “always being on” can temporarily lower your IQ by as much as ten points. That’s a lot.

The 50/50 rule

Studies shows that when people multitask, they make 50 percent more mistakes and they take 50 percent longer to complete the task. That’s insane! Your brain cannot focus on two things at once. We need to get back to single-tasking.

It's an addiction!

If our phones are so bad for us, why do we keep multitasking? It’s an addiction!  We are literally addicted to our phones. Here are a few facts:

While drug use in teenagers has gone down, social media usage has gone up. Drugs activate the reward center of the brain. And so do social media.

  • 50 percent of teenagers feel addicted.
  • 60 percent of millennials are texting while driving
  •  Accidents with pedestrians have increased by factor ten from 2005-2010. Many of them were wearing headphones or texting. In the US alone 9 people per day die due to texting while driving.
  • One in four fatal accidents is due to texting while driving.
  • There are other side effects: Tech neck, bad body posture, and anxiety.  You name it. 

You can get your brain back

The good news: The negative impact of multimedia multitasking is reversible. Phone addiction can be stopped. You can get your brain back. And your life.

How can you change? This will be the topic of my next post in my series on digital learning. Stay tuned!

Resources: 

1.    "The Leading Brain: How to work smarter, better, happier",Random House, 2017
2.    Your phone shrinks your brain:Loh & Kanai, 2014
3.    IQ: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/4471607.stm
4.    50/50 rule: Rubinstein et al 2001
5.   Time spent on internet: Digital 2019
6.    Time spent reading: American Time Use Survey 2018