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Having your smartphone nearby might improve your cognitive abilities

It’s no secret that most Americans have an unhealthy connection to their smartphones, but this connection isn’t without its benefits. A group of researchers from Florida State University, Indiana University, and the University of Oklahoma recently conducted a study, which found that adults between the ages of 18 and 24 actually performed better on cognitive tests when their phone was nearby. The test subjects were all iPhone users, and halfway through their test, each subject had their smartphone moved to the other side of the room, at which point they started performing more poorly. 

Smartphone addiction is a very real issue in today’s culture. Multiple studies and surveys indicate that millions of Americans claim they’d be lost without their mobile device but in reality, that’s just perception. How would adults hold up if they were actually separated from their mobile lifeline? A new study from a trio of researchers – Russell Clayton of Florida State University, Glenn Leshner from the University of Oklahoma and Indiana University’s Anthony Almond – is quite telling. The team asked a group of iPhone users between the ages of 18 and 24 to complete two word-search puzzles. As an incentive, test subjects were told that whoever found the most words would win a gift card. Mid-way through the test, participants were asked to take their phone out of their pocket or purse and place it in the opposite corner of the room. On average, test subjects found nine words when their phone was near them compared to just six words when their handset was far away. Curiously enough, researchers observed that users’ heart rate and blood pressure levels increased when their iPhone rang but they weren’t able to answer it.

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