Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Negative Effects of Smartphone Use on Physical and Technical Performance of Young Footballers

Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Negative Effects of Smartphone Use on Physical and Technical Performance of Young Footballers

Article excerpt

Introduction

Mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, are a filter through which the reality and interpersonal relations are enjoyed. These devices have acquired important functions in both interpersonal and individual spheres. Because these objects are status symbols that are strongly tied to fashion, they can cause a true dependence for the adolescents. In Italy, 17 % of young people cannot stop using smartphones and social networks, 25 % are always online, 45 % are connected several times a day, 78 % chat continuously on WhatsApp and 21 % are afflicted by vamping, which means that they wake up during the night to check messages on their cellphones (Safer Internet Day, 2016). Besides, the brightness of devices can delay sleep of those who use them for a long time before sleeping (Figueiro, Wood, Guilty, and Plitnick, 2012). In the field of physical education, the use of these devices to play, for example, videogames has often been viewed with skepticism and has been traditionally associated with several risks to physical and mental health (Funk & Buchman, 1995). When significant effort is focused on cognitive exercise, there is a possibility of mental fatigue (Kaplan, 2001). Recent studies have demonstrated that mental tasks that involve cognitive control can lead to the reduction of systemic glucose. This indicates that a significant mental effort can produce a state of tiredness that can influence performance (Gailliot & Baumeister, 2007).

Previous studies, which observed the effects of mental fatigue on physical performance, demonstrated that prolonged periods of cognitive activity induce mental fatigue, which is a psychological state that is characterized by tiredness and lack of energy (Boksem, Meijman, & Lorist, 2006; Marcora, Staiano, & Manning, 2009). Besides, it has been suggested that mental fatigue can negatively impact on explosive strength, maximum muscular contraction, power and anaerobic work capacities (Ferraz et al., 2011; Martin, Thompson, Keegan, Ball, & Rattray, 2015; Pageaux, Marcora, & Lepers, 2013; Rampinini, Impellizzeri, Chestnut, Coutts, & Wisloff, 2009; Smith, Marcora, & Coutts, 2015). Furthermore, mental fatigue affects performance during constant weight resistance testing (Marcora et al., 2009). Team sports are characterized by very important cognitive requests that force athletes to maintain concentration for prolonged periods of time and to take swift and accurate decisions in a highly dynamic environment (Montgomery et al., 2008; Tavares, Smith, & Driller, 2017; Walsh, 2014). In fact, the study by Smith et al. (2016b) indicated that mental fatigue induced by a cognitive task of 30 minutes increased decision-making time and reduced accuracy of tired players compared with a control group during game situations that were created during Small Sided Games. Additional studies highlighted a decrease in terms of quantity and quality of technical performance due to mental fatigue, which was verified by the competition progress (Carling & Dupont, 2011; Rampinini et al., 2008, 2009).

The studies highlighted that the condition of mental fatigue is induced by long and intense cognitive tasks, which lead to an objective feeling of tiredness and lack of energy. To identify the standardized conditions of mental fatigue, cognitive tasks are provided using a personal computer. These tasks include Psychomotor Vigilance Task (Loh, Lamond, Dorrian, Roach, & Dawson, 2004), Ax-Continuous Performance Task (Smith et al., 2015), and Stroop Color Task (Smith et al., 2016a). While trying to clarify neurological mechanisms that are at the base of the relation between mental fatigue, perception of fatigue and performance, it is still necessary to take into account real habits of athletes during pre-competition or pre-training. In fact, even if the athletes can devote themselves to mentally hard tasks before a game, it is improbable that before the competition they perform a similar cognitive task, for example "Stroop color". …

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