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Utahns demonstrate attention span disruption with cell phone usage

It was 2007 when Apple released the iPhone as the first “smartphone.” Since then, consumers have become increasingly attached to their devices, to the point of distraction. Research shows looking at phones gives users a dopamine boost, creating a feeling of pleasure and satisfaction, but at what cost?

In a study conducted by North Star Inbound, for the gaming platform Solitaire Bliss, smartphone users across 38 states submitted information about their cell phone usage. The study showed 41% of Utah residents frequently use their phones while watching TV, 49% of Utahns admit to looking down at their phones as they cross a street and 59% of Utah residents bring their phones to use while on the toilet.

“This study looked at a few ways being distracted by our phones can impact our lives,” said Melissa Stephenson, North Star Inbound media relations associate. “With 49% of Utah residents admitting to looking down at their phones at least a couple times while crossing a street, a personal safety issue is raised.” 

While men are most guilty of looking at their phones while crossing the street, women reach for their phones while watching TV more often than men. Nearly one-third of Utah residents only last a few minutes before their mind wanders and they reach for their phone, and 45% of Utahns talk to others on their phones while working on a separate task. 

Habitual cell phone use has been connected with decreased attention spans. According to the study, it’s not surprising that the Gen Z population, who have grown up with smartphones, has the shortest attention span compared to millennials, Gen X and baby boomers.

The Child Mind Institute found an increase in phone use led to a decrease in connection. As attention spans decrease, effective learning is diminished. This includes the ability to retain information, pay attention to details and create cognitive flexibility, which is a brain’s ability to change and adapt. 

“As our study points out areas where attention spans aren’t thriving, we can look at research done by George Washington University for recommendations on improving attention spans,” Stephenson said. “They listed meditation, practicing attentive listening, reading, practicing muscle relaxation techniques, mindful walking, reducing distractions and making time for mental breaks.”

Experts recommend putting phones in a different room where it won’t be visible and easily accessible. Sometimes, just the sight of a phone is a trigger to pick it up and use it. Placing a phone in a drawer at work is a good way to keep from getting distracted on the job. Users can also set time limits on specific platforms or download apps to track cell phone usage. 

The North Star Inbound study showed 76% of those surveyed are distracted by their phones at work and 62% give up when trying something new or difficult. For more on the study, visit

“Utah residents ranked the fourth worst at being on their phones while talking to loved ones, raising the issue of not being present in those situations,” Stephenson said. “Being present in moments of our lives has been proven to help with stress management and regulating our moods.”λ