Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 26, 2005 / 19 Tammuz, 5765

How cell phones sap your brain

By Clarence Page


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Dear motorist: If you like to drive while chattering away on your cell phone, pull over.

Or, at least, think twice. According to some new studies, you'd have to think at least twice, or maybe three or four times as much as normal to make up for the useful brain power your cell phone conversation drains out of your brain, whether you use a hands-free device or not.

A study of Australian highway crashes published recently in the British Medical Journal found that yakking on a cell phone while driving is four times as likely to lead to a serious crash, regardless of whether the driver is talking to a handheld or hands-free phone device.

Researchers for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted the study, the first to link actual accident data with phone records, in Western Australia, because phone companies in the U.S. would not grant access to wireless records, citing privacy concerns.

Closer to home, brain imaging tests at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore found that, even with a hands-free device, cell phone use forces the brain to redirect its resources to what it hears and says, draining resources away from the visual task of driving.

Donate to JWR


Or, as Steven Yantis, a professor of psychological and brain sciences, described it when he announced the test results in late June, "Directing attention to listening effectively 'turns down the volume' on input to the visual parts of the brain."

That must come as harsh news to lawmakers in states like New York and New Jersey and cities like Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Santa Fe, N.M., that prohibit motorists from using handheld phones.

Although more studies need to be done before more laws are changed, the results so far tend to confirm a position that some communications theorists have argued for years: The most powerful communications medium is not television, radio or newspapers; it's the cell phone.

The late media guru Marshall McLuhan labeled the visual media like TV and newspapers the "cool" media because they demand our undivided attention much more than radio or music players do.

But those who argue that cell phones are no more distracting than radios underestimate the power of the cell. By McLuhan's standard, the telephone is extra potent. It not only provides the "theater of the mind" that radio broadcasters like to boast about, but it also forces us to talk back.

"The phone is a doubly-cool medium," says Professor Paul Levinson, chair of communications and media studies at Fordham University. "On our cell phones, we are not just listening, but talking and conversing. Our eyes tend to zoom in on one thing at a time. Our ears are built for multitasking. Because of that, telephones may engage us more than any other medium."

For the record, Levinson, whose latest book is "Cellphone: The Story of the World's Most Mobile Medium and How It Has Transformed Everything!" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), spoke to me by cell phone, but he assured me he was not driving.


BUY THE BOOK
Does this book sound intriguing?

Click HERE to purchase it at a discount. (Sales help fund JWR.).

That's just as well, since we don't need a Johns Hopkins brain imaging study to tell us that the human brain only concentrates well on one task at a time.

Indeed, the phone is special. It rings and we feel compelled to answer it. Right now! Its sound quality is low, so we feel compelled to shout even louder! It deludes us into thinking that we are someplace else, conversing in private, so we reveal secrets out loud to strangers in public, secrets that, had we our wits about us, we would not want to tell our own mothers.

We can see that in some of the goofy scenes modern cell phone life has offered us:

Take the well-dressed young professional woman who seems to be talking and gesturing to no one in particular, until you realize she's talking on a hands-free cell phone.

Or the similarly serious young man sitting alone in a restaurant, talking to no one in particular, it seems, until you spot the little hands-free cell phone cord hanging from his ear.

Or the highly-wired lawyer on a high-speed train from Manhattan to Washington blabbing his firm's private business over his cell phone for everyone in the car to hear, whether they want to or not.

I've witnessed each of these modern urban creatures. As cell phone use continues to grow, I expect to see more of them — although, I hope, not behind the wheel.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment on Clarence Page's column by clicking here.

Archives

© 2005, TMS

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles