Your cellphone has a hold on you. According to a study published in the Journal of Social Psychology, your cellphone keeps your attention hostage whether you're looking at it or not.
The study asked participants to perform some attention tests with their cellphone either on a table or in their pocket. People who pocketed their gadgets did much better on the tests. Here's how the tests worked:
For both, participants were presented with a page of 20 rows of single digit numbers singly spaced. The less challenging task was a simple "digit cancellation" task. Each row of digits was preceded by a "target number" that the subject was to circle and then proceed to cross off each occurrence of the number appearing in that row; then on to the next row with a different target number (e.g., 2: 382-162-75 ...). The more challenging task was an "additive cancellation" task. Again, each row of digits was preceded by a "target number" that the subject was to circle and then proceed to cross off any two adjacent numbers that "added up" to their target number (e.g., 3: 32-1-6183-0-5...).
While Internet-connected gadgets are a great way to stay in touch with your friends and loved ones, they introduce a whole new world of distraction. Keeping your cellphone out of site when it's not in use — as this study has demonstrated — can help you to avoid these distractions.