Using your phone on break during mentally challenging tasks doesn’t allow your brain to recharge effectively and may result in poorer performance, according to new research.
For the study, researchers assigned college undergraduates to solve challenging sets of word puzzles. Halfway through, some were allowed to take breaks using their cellphones. Others took breaks using paper or a computer while some took no break at all.
The participants who took phone breaks experienced the highest levels of mental depletion and were among the least capable of solving the puzzles afterwards. Their post-break efficiency and quickness was comparable to those with no break. Their number of word problems solved after the break was slightly better than those who took no break, but worse than all other participants.
Participants who took a break on their cell phone took 19% longer to do the rest of the task and solved 22% fewer problems than did those in the other break conditions combined.
“The act of reaching for your phone between tasks, or mid-task, is becoming more commonplace. 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,” says coauthor Terri Kurtzberg, an associate professor of management and global business at the Rutgers University Business School.
Apple and Samsung phones released over the last three years may be producing radio frequency radiation at levels higher than current Federal Communications Commission limits allow, according to a report by the Chicago Tribune. Scientists and consumers have shown increasing concern that may have adverse effects on human health, especially with . The new report demonstrates that older phone models, operating in the 3G and 4G bands, have the potential to exceed the FCC’s safe limits by up to as much as five times.
Smartphone manufacturers are required to abide by the FCC guidelines in regard to radio frequency radiation absorption by the body. The current measure used to determine the safety limit is known as the “specific absorption rate,” or SAR, and the FCC set this at 1.6 watts per kilogram (1.6W/kg), averaged over 1 gram of tissue. The FCC states that this limit is “well below that at which laboratory testing indicates … adverse health effects could occur.”