Do you remember when was the last time — and for how long — you were without your smartphone? Probably not. In fact, studies suggest that smartphone users interact with their devices an average of 85 times a day, and 46% of total smartphone users have said that they could not live without it. This has far-reaching consequences; so much that it can hurt a country’s creative economy.
While our overall leisure time is increasing, we are spending more of it using screen-based devices, which is reducing our cognitive capacity, a report by McKinsey & Company and the World Economic Forum has said citing a consumer research by the University of Chicago. Meaning: The more we spend our time on our smartphone, the less we spend it on the physical world and creative tasks such as painting, dancing, writing, logical reasoning, abstract thought etc.
“Studies have shown how off-screen performance is interrupted by digital devices, and recent research found that just the presence of a smartphone can reduce cognitive capacity,” the report said.
“Immersive devices, which could be at least as engaging as smartphones, may end up being inhibiting,” it added.
The Chicago University research states that there is an abundance of information around us but our capacity to process that information is limited; given this mismatch, “individuals need to be selective in their allocation of attentional resources”. The research on the mobile device shows that when an individual interacts with one’s phone while behind the wheel, it causes performance deficits such as delayed reaction times and inattentional blindness.
Taking the cue from similar researches, McKinsey & Company and WEF have concluded that our dependence on smartphones could end up hurting a country’s creative economy. It indicates that with more dependence on smartphones, technology platforms are being used to find bigger audiences for their content. These platforms can influence—intentionally or not—the types of content that flourish.
“Companies provide incentives, including money and advice, which sway publishers toward creating content that works well on their platforms. This is not always content with high artistic or civic values but, rather, content that is likely to spread quickly online,” the report said.
Facebook and Google, the two companies responsible for around 70% of online referral traffic exercise “explicitly editorial” judgments on content and design standards—decisions that used to be the province of traditional media, and thus affecting the creative economy of a country.