Talking on mobile makes you oblivious

Researchers in the US have proved what most of us already know to be true. Walking in a straight line while talking on the phone seems to be impossible for many of us.

Researchers in the US have proved what most of us already know to be true. Walking in a straight line while talking on the phone seems to be impossible for many of us.

A team at Western Washington University has carried out some work which suggests using a mobile phone adversely affects our ability to see and interact with our immediate environment.

The study points out that those using mobile phones “walk more slowly, change directions and weave more often and fail to notice interesting and novel objects.” One such object used in the study was a unicycling clown.

The research says that phone users are ‘twice as oblivious’ as non phone users. Which, I suppose, means they are twice as likely to miss seeing something.

We all know there is a problem. How many times have you had some idiot walk into you while talking on their phone? How many times have you been on a call and some idiot not on the phone has walked right into you? Obviously you didn’t notice you were swerving and the ‘idiot’ was walking in a straight line.

On a serious note, I wonder what this really says about us. My elderly neighbour, an irregular user of a mobile phone, gets perturbed by seeing people on their phones when out and about, believing they are wrapped in their own little bubbles and that they can’t possible know what is going on around them.

She means this in a big sense as well as in the smaller sense of walking into somebody. And maybe she is right. Are we a more selfish, inward looking society now than we were twenty years ago? And if so, have mobile phones (and/or personal music players, PSPs, etc) got anything to do with it as either cause or effect?

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