Far too many of us are addicted to our phones. Xand spent 15 hours on his phone last week and more than four hours on Twitter alone, which feels like too much, though he insists it is mostly in the bathroom or waiting in a queue.
There’s evidence that smartphones can cause stress, exacerbate depression and disrupt sleep — all bad news for our healthspan — but some research suggests that they might also be making you less intelligent, simply by being close at hand.
The theory is that this is down to distraction. Most people check their phones more than 80 times a day, but because we all have a limited amount of attention, the mental effort of trying to ignore our phones might cause us to run out of brain space.
We put this theory to the test for The Twinstitute. For our experiment we split our 30 pairs of twins into two groups to take an identical IQ test.
The only difference was that half our twins had their phones taken away, while the others were allowed to keep them on their desks (switched off).
The results were astounding — the twins whose phones were removed scored 5 per cent higher than those who had phones in front of them.
This corroborates a 2017 study by the University of Texas, where 800 smartphone users were asked to sit tests geared to measure the brain’s ability to hold and process data.
The people who were told to leave their phone in another room consistently outperformed those who left their phone on their desk.