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Your Smartphone and Tablet May Be Making You Adhd-Like

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Indirect effects of manipulating smartphone interruptions on psychological well-being via inattention symptoms.

Smartphones and other digital technology may be causing attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder-like symptoms, according to an open-access study published in the proceedings of ACM CHI 16,

Credit: Kostadin Kushlev et al./CHI 2016

Smartphones and other digital technology may be inducing attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)-like symptoms, according to a study published in the proceedings of ACM CHI 2016 conference in San Jose, CA.

Researchers from the Universities of Virginia and British Columbia staged an experiment demonstrating when 221 students kept their phones on ring or vibrate and with notification alerts on, they reported more inattention and hyperactivity than when they kept their phones on silent. This suggests even people without an ADHD diagnosis may experience some of the disorder's symptoms.

A second study suggested the use of digital platforms such as tablets and laptops for reading also may increase users' inclination to focus on tangible details rather than interpreting information more contemplatively or abstractly. Using 300 participants, researchers at Dartmouth College's Tiltfactor lab and Carnegie Mellon University's Human-Computer Interaction Institute performed four studies in which participants were tested by reading a short story and a table of information about fictitious Japanese car models. Outcomes showed individuals who completed the same information processing task on a digital mobile device compared to a non-digital platform displayed a lower level of abstract thinking.

"The ever-increasing demands of multitasking, divided attention, and information overload that individuals encounter in their use of digital technologies may cause them to 'retreat' to the less cognitively demanding lower end of the concrete-abstract continuum," the researchers say.

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Abstracts Copyright © 2016 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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