Divided Attention — or how much does your cell phone subtract from your life?

An experiment conducted with students at Rutgers University shows that access to cell phones during lectures results in a 5% lower final exam grade. That’s the equivalent of half a letter grade (e.g., changing an A- to a B+).(1)

That makes sense. If you’re looking at the phone during a lecture, you’re being less attentive to the lecture and missing something you may need to know.

Now, what about the rest of your life? Business conference calls are the worse. When you can’t see what someone is doing, they may well be playing with the cell and only half listening to what you say. Just how good is that?

Or think of phone conversations with your significant other? How much do you or they miss due to distractions? What’s the cost of that? Another argument? A missed date?

It really doesn’t matter if women multitask better than men — neither does it all that well.

If you’re going to do something, you need to be “in the moment” and focused. Do it right or don’t do it.

Cell phones — they’re not just a problem when driving any more.


  1. Arnold L. Glass, Mengxue Kang. Dividing attention in the classroom reduces exam performance. Educational Psychology, 2018; 1 DOI: 10.1080/01443410.2018.1489046
  2. Taylor & Francis Group. “Checking phones in lectures can cost students half a grade in exams.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 July 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180728083617.htm>.

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