Posted on Aug 22, 2019, 2 p.m.
You may want to reconsider reaching for your cell phone at work, as this act carries negative cognitive cost of using this media choice during breaks, according to a recent study from Rutgers University called “Reach for your cell phone at your own risk: The cognitive costs of media choice for breaks.”
Sometimes while at work to take a break people will reach for their mobile devices to check emails, scroll social media, or just get in a quick round in a game. People engage in this act thinking that it will help relax and mentally recharge before returning to work, but this study has found using a cell phone during a work break actually doesn’t allow the brain to relax and it can actually result in poorer performance.
This study involved 422 participants who were assigned a set of twenty word puzzles to solve, halfway through the task they were divided into 3 groups: one group took a break and were instructed to use their mobile devices to shop online; another group was instructed to shop online with their computers or a paper circular while on break; and the other group didn’t take a break at all.
Based on their findings the group that took a break using their cell phones displayed the highest levels of mental fatigue and had the hardest time solving word puzzles when they returned from break; post break efficiency and quickness was on par with the group that didn’t take a break, and they took 19% longer to finish puzzle tasks and solved 22% fewer problems than the other two groups 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 distractions that make it difficult to return focused attention to work tasks,” explains co-author Terri Kurtzberg in a release.
As published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, according to the researchers smartphone/mobile devices are so addictive and common place during breaks every day because the act of seeing one is enough to illicit thoughts of scrolling and checking notifications to view a never ending stream of photos, information, updates, and “news”.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.