Smartphones Linked to Lower IQ, Norwegian Psychologist Claims

The advent of smartphones coinciding with a decline in IQ levels is not a coincidence, says clinical psychologist Lars Dehli to NRK. Since the introduction of smartphones in 2010, IQ scores have been decreasing, a trend Dehli attributes to increased smartphone usage.

Marie Bråthen, a Nordic Studies student, relies on her phone to stay updated with news and connect with friends. «I got my first phone in 2010, a Sony Ericsson slider. I couldn’t even access the internet then,» Bråthen recalls. Despite the technological advancements since, she now sets app usage limits to prevent excessive screen time.

«Digital Cocaine»

«Facebook has some value for social interaction, but TikTok is just a dopamine rush, like digital cocaine,» says Dehli, who is also a lecturer at Kristiania University College. He explains that the Flynn effect, which observed rising IQ scores since World War II, has reversed in recent decades, particularly since 2010.

«What happened in 2010? The smartphone was introduced,» Dehli points out. He used to tell his students they were the smartest generation ever, but he no longer believes that to be true.

Facebook has a certain value, it has a certain social interaction. TikTok is just dopamine rush and digital cocaine

Lars Dehli

Rising Anxiety and Depression

Dehli notes a troubling increase in mental health issues among young people. «When I lecture to 200 students, I used to think that 30 of them had suicidal thoughts; now it’s more like 60,» he says. Recent, unpublished research from Kristiania University College shows that the number of college students experiencing suicidal thoughts has almost doubled from 15% to 29%. Similarly, the incidence of anxiety and depression among youth has more than doubled since 2010.

Balancing Act

Bråthen acknowledges the dual impact of smartphones. «If you’re more present on your phone than in real life, you miss out on what’s happening around you, which builds your understanding of the world,» she says. Nevertheless, she believes that exposure to diverse perspectives and the ability to learn a lot from scrolling are significant benefits.

Mensa’s Perspective

Olav Hoel Dørum, the testing coordinator for Mensa Norway, doesn’t share Dehli’s concern. «People aren’t learning faster or slower than before,» he states, noting that Mensa has not observed a decline in the IQ of its members. However, Dørum speculates that technology may hinder the development of certain skills that impact IQ test performance, such as sustained attention and reading habits.

While Dørum considers the decline in IQ scores a potential natural evolution, Dehli warns of serious implications if current screen habits are not addressed.

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