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Smartphone use and daily cognitive failures: A critical examination using a daily diary approach with objective smartphone measures.

Hartanto, A., Lee, K. Y. X., Chua, Y. J., Quek, F. Y. X., Majeed, N. M.

September 2022

Abstract

While smartphones have brought many benefits and conveniences to users, there is continuing debate regarding their potential negative consequences on everyday cognition such as daily cognitive failures. A few cross-sectional studies have found positive associations between smartphone use and cognitive failures. However, several research gaps remain, such as the use of cross-sectional designs, confounds related to stable individual differences, the lack of validity in self-report measures of smartphone use, memory biases in retrospective self-reports, and the lack of differentiation between smartphone checking and smartphone screen time. To simultaneously address the aforementioned shortcomings, the current study examined the within-person associations between various objective indicators of smartphone use and daily cognitive failures using a 7-day daily diary study. Multilevel modelling revealed that smartphone checking, but not total smartphone screen time, predicted a greater occurrence of daily cognitive failures at the within-person level. Surprisingly, we also found negative within-person associations between smartphone screen time for social- and tools-related applications and daily cognitive failures, suggesting that some types of smartphone use may temporarily benefit one's cognitive functioning. This finding demonstrates the importance of studying the specific functions of smartphone use and their differential cognitive consequences, as well as highlights the complex relations between smartphone use and cognition.  

Keywords: cognitive failures; diary study; objective measure; smartphone use.

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