In 2015, a study by the UT showed that 83 percent of cell phone owners in Austin have smartphones.
An article published in the Public Library of Science in October 2015 stated that smartphone users spend approximately five hours a day on their phones. Data from Ward's UT study shows that—five hours of direct use aside—smartphones take up brain power even when they are not in use.
The study randomly divided participants into three groups. The first had their smartphones face down on the desk in front of them. The second had their smartphones in a pocket or personal bag. The third group had with their smartphones in another room. All phones were on silent. Each participant then took a series of tests designed to require full concentration.
Participants with their phones in another room significantly outperformed those with their phones on the desk, the press release said. They slightly outperformed participants whose phones were in their pockets or personal bags.
"It's a brain drain."
As the smartphone became more noticeable—was physically closer to the participant, Ward said the participant's capacity to focus on the test decreased. The decrease occurred regardless of whether the phone was upside-down or turned off.
“Your conscious mind isn’t thinking about your smartphone, but that process—the process of requiring yourself to not think about something—uses up some of your limited cognitive resources,” Ward said in a press release. "It's a brain drain."