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The Turn Off Your Smartphone Challenge

A just-released scientific study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University and Telefonica concludes turning off your notifications on your smart-phone for 24 hours will noticeably improve your concentration, reduce anxiety and improve your stress level.

This, in turn, may help you think more clearly, provided you don’t “freak-out” at the mere thought of actually shutting off your smartphone notifications.

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If you do, and that’s a big IF, you may be rewarded with a much keener awareness in how to improve your basic “everyday” quality-of-life.

Most of us already know that spending every waking hour with our heads buried in our smart-phones already produces a multitude of physical issues, from headaches, back and neck pain to blurred vision and in some instances actual fatigue.

You may have decided on our own to break away from the addiction, only to find yourselves more stressed out than before. It’s our uncontrollable desire to be continuously connected, even when we’re sleeping.

The first step is realizing that this is a universal problem and that you’re not alone, moreover a problem that can easily be solved.

Back in 2015, the researchers originally set out to find a group of participants who would be willing to give up their smart-phones for a week-long study, which proved to be a disaster, in that no one was willing to part company with their smart-phone for that length of time.

Researches were forced to go back to the drawing board and come up with another solution that would generate similar results after adjusting expectations and reducing the length of time to 24 hours. Researches ended up with a pool of 30 individuals willing to give up their smart-phones for that length of time.

Scientists conducting the test dubbed the program the “Do Not Disturb Challenge.”  The participants were separated from their smart-phones for 24-hours. Afterward, researches asked how they felt.

While some individuals acknowledged they felt anxious about missing messages during the 24-hour period, on the whole, the group saw improvement in concentration ability and a reduction in overall stress levels.

However, the biggest surprise came the next day, when 22 out of the 30 individuals acknowledged that their brief experience of turning off their message notifications, made them rethink how much influence their cell phones had over their lives.

Remarkably two years after the test, 13 have reduced the number of push notifications they allowed their phones to send them.

Luz Rello from CMU’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute and Martin Pielot from Telefonica Research, were the two individuals who conducted the test in 2015, have concluded, “Our findings show that cultural practices around notifications have locked people in a dilemma: On the one hand, notifications have become integral to the tools that connect us with others, and they are needed to keep up with people’s expectations. On the other hand, our participants became aware of the negative effects that notifications have on them and some started to devise coping strategies.”

Rello and Pielot cited a previous study in their report which found people on average receive about 63.5 notifications per day.

Another study conducted by Daniel Levitin, professor of behavioral neuroscience at McGill University researching the effects of multi-tasking says, “That switching comes with a biological cost that ends up making us feel tired much more quickly than if we sustain attention on one thing

“People eat more, they take more caffeine. Often what you really need in that moment isn’t caffeine, but just a break. If you aren’t taking regular breaks every couple of hours, your brain won’t benefit from that extra cup of coffee.”

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About Bob A.

I began my career as a New York graphic designer, years later as an Art Director working with some of the leading advertising agencies and studios of the day, transitioned into owning my own graphic design service, providing a host of creative services, most recently as a working cartoonist for a verity of clients, my most recent illustrative assignment was a 33-page children’s book titled “Nicholas’s Amazing Journey.” I’m a published author, with my first novel titled “Journey” published in 2003, and my second a short story titled “Mr. Tidbit’s Dilemma”, published in 2014, by American Star Books, and I’m currently working on my third novel, a murder-mystery titled “Possession,” which hopefully should be completed early next year. I’m also an unabashed conservative and political junkie writing well over 4,000 published articles and political commentary, on a host of national issues and current event topics facing America. I received the 2007 Editors Choice Award, for Outstanding Achievement in poetry, presented by Poetry.com and the International Library of Poetry, and I am a proud member of the National Writers Association.

One comment

  1. I do not see the point to smartphones. I will try to hold out until some institution, bank etc. forces me to buy one.

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