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Are You Using Your Phone Because You Are Bored or Are You Bored Because You Are Using Your Phone?

Sabrina Artusa

Posted on July 10, 2021 12:15

3 users

Research shows that smartphone use is actually contributing to fatigue and boredom at work.


How many times have you, in the midst of doing productive and necessary work, picked up your phone, absentmindedly, and started scrolling? I have, countless times; each time under the pretense of a “break."

Logically, it would make sense that switching from a laborious job to one of leisure would result in restored energy and a refreshed state of mind. However, a recent study shows that even the smallest phone usage in the midst of doing work can contribute to an increase in boredom and fatigue.


The sample consisted of 83 participants, and 1,724 hourly reports of fatigue and boredom. The participants were required to answer questions relating to their productivity levels,  FOMO (fear of missing out) levels, and fatigue and boredom levels. The study largely focused on the participants' experience, but data from the participant’s phones were collected as well.


As can be expected, the researchers record “that as fatigue increases by half a standard deviation (~ 11 points), participants are estimated to be 1.32 times more likely to interact with their smartphone in the following 20 minutes.” 


Most astounding was the effect smartphone use had after usage. In order to test this, the researchers measured smartphone use 20 minutes before the questionnaire. They found that people experience more fatigue after using their phone. 


This fact is alarming in itself, but its implications are even more so. If we use our phones because we are fatigued, and are fatigued because we use our phones, how productive are we actually being? The answer is probably not as much as we would like. 


To add, the authors state that “an increase in fatigue and boredom of just 10 points (on a 1–100 scale) was associated with a 30–40% increase in the likelihood of smartphone use.” They go on to point out that fatigue increased by an average of 20 points throughout the workday.


How could something we are using as a “break” be making us more tired? It could be because our phone usage reminds us of what we could be doing; consequently making the switch back to work more difficult. In retrospect, I have noticed that once I pause studying to use my phone, returning to my task is more difficult since my mind is still occupied by what I saw on my phone. 


This topic is still understudied and the study is not decisive; the authors make it clear that more research is needed. However, its findings are still pertinent. It shows how little we really know about the devices that we are so dependent on. 


Fatigue is our primary obstacle when working or studying. In order to avoid detrimental fatigue and boredom, we need to reexamine how we utilize our breaks. Short breaks are advantageous and can help refresh you and keep you energetic, but it is recommended that you spend these breaks by stretching, getting a snack, or going for a walk.

Sabrina Artusa

Posted on July 10, 2021 12:15

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Source: KHOU

Research suggests productivity actually increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.                

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