Friends Text Messaging Through Smart PhoneThink for a moment about how much time you spend holding and using your cell phone. It has become, more or less, a part of you, unless you’re some kind of weirdo. When people aren’t in a room with you, I’m sure it’s your main mode of communication with them.

Is this bettering your life?

You betcha. You can obviously come up with millions of reasons that increased technology is messing up your life and communication skills and whatever else, but if this were truly the case, not everybody would be using them as prolifically as everyone does.

I bet that during lulls in your day (or anytime something seems even vaguely uncomfortable commences to occur around you) you bust out your iPhone or Android and start fiddling with it.

What do you do? Play Angry Birds or Temple Run or some other poor man’s video game that does absolutely nothing for your own self improvement? Collectively spend 100,000 on Flappy Bird?

You might want to stop doing that. The powerful rectangle in your hands can help you become a smarter and better person.

Here are a few apps you should download and check out in the interest of self-improvement:

Quiz-Up: I spend most of my free phone time on Quiz-Up, an app that allows you to play one-on-one trivia games against strangers and friends. If you can think of a category, they probably have it. If they don’t, you can submit some questions to get the category going. You score points for each question you answer correctly, and for each game you win. Each point pushes you toward the next expertise level. I dominate the Disney trivia circuit. Challenge me if you dare—my user name is scottmuska.

Lumosity: This app helps you improve your memory and attention span by way of a number of educational games that incorporate cognitive and neuropsychological tasks. I don’t even fully know what that means, so you know this has to be a good one. A dictionary app is useful for obvious reasons. The app is the best of the bunch, because it can help improve your vocabulary on the regular. The app offers a Word of the Day that you can have sent your way as a push notification.

Words With Friends: This is my favorite competitive way to work on my word-smithing. It’s Scrabble on your phone. That’s pretty much all you need to know.

Howcast: Pretty basic: this app is a collection of videos telling you how things work.

Owl: This app culls all kinds of kick-butt random facts from the users of Reddit and presents it to you in a simple, efficient way. An example: “Paul Winchell, the guy who voiced Mr. Owl on the Tootsie Pop commercials, also invented the artificial heart.” Dude was multi-talented.

Brain Fitness Pro: The New York Times called this app “Like boot camp for the brain.” It focuses on improving your “active” memory, a skill that benefits new learning and awareness of one’s surroundings.

PowerVocab: This app is comprised of a number of games that will help improve your vocabulary, of course. You can take them on yourself, or challenge a friend to compete with or against you.

NY Times Crosswords: Crossword puzzles are the old school way to improve smarts and stay mentally on edge. The New York Times has been putting out the best and most popular crossword puzzles since before I was born, and now you can access them and attempt to complete them (they’re damn hard) on your phone. It’s a simultaneously fun and endlessly frustrating time.

Today in History: This app hits you up with historic tidbits on the anniversary of their happening, so you can gain some knowledge and then drop it all over your friends, family and coworkers.