Friday, April 22, 2005

The Scotsman - It's not clever to send too many texts and e-mails

The Scotsman - Top Stories - It's not clever to send too many texts and e-mails:
Key points
• Texting makes you less intelligent, it is revealed
• Brains suffer from information overload, apparently
• Solution is: switch off!

Key quote
'The impairment only lasts for as long as the distraction. But you have to ask whether our current obsession with constant communication is causing long-term damage to concentration and mental ability.' - Dr Glenn Wilson, psychologist at the University of London

Story in full
CONSTANT text messaging and e-mailing causes a reduction in mental capability equivalent to the loss of ten IQ points, according to research.

Tapping away on a mobile phone or computer keypad or checking messages on a handheld gadget temporarily reduces the performance of the brain, according to the study into the effects of 'infomania'.

The psychologist behind the research has concluded that obsessive use of phones and e-mail devices could impair mental capability even more than smoking cannabis - and suggested the modern culture of information could cause a permanent drop in intelligence.

'It is obvious that full concentration is impossible when we have one eye on e-mails or text messages,' said Dr Glenn Wilson, a psychologist at the University of London who conducted the study of 1,000 adults. 'But we found that mental performance, the capability of the brain, was also reduced. Workers cannot think as well when they are worrying about e-mail or voicemails. It effectively reduces their IQ.

'The impairment only lasts for as long as the distraction. But you have to ask whether our current obsession with constant communication is causing long-term damage to concentration and mental ability.'

The surfeit of information is believed to cost firms millions of pounds a year in lost productivity. Millionaire telecoms mogul John Caudwell banned his staff from e-mailing last year, dubbing the practice the 'cancer of modern business'.

The owner of the Phones 4U chain told more than 2,500 employees to ditch cyberspace for face-to-face or phone communication - and claimed the ban had an 'instant, dramatic and positive effect'.

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates is believed to receive up to four million e-mails a day, almost all of them spam, and has a dedicated department looking after the contents of his inbox.

Dr Wilson said the brain finds it hard to cope with juggling lots of tasks at once, reducing its effectiveness.

'It is similar to the effect on the mind of losing a night’s sleep, for instance, and more than twice the effect of the four-point drop in IQ caused by smoking cannabis.'"

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