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Socializing Is More Fun Without This Distraction

HealthDay News
by -- Robert Preidt
Updated: Mar 1st 2018

new article illustration

THURSDAY, March 1, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- If you're out for a good time, think twice about pulling out your smartphone.

Smartphones can making dining out less appetizing, a recent study revealed. And a second experiment found that people get less pleasure from face-to-face socializing if they are using their mobile device.

The findings add to growing research into how smartphones affect public health, said Elizabeth Dunn, the study's senior author. She's a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia in Canada.

"An important finding of happiness research is that face-to-face interactions are incredibly important for our day-to-day well-being," Dunn said in a university news release.

In one experiment, 300 people were asked to have a restaurant meal with family and friends. Participants were randomly told to either keep their smartphones at the table or to put them away during the meal.

Those who used their phones during the dinner enjoyed themselves less than those who did not use their phones. They said they felt more distracted, which reduced their enjoyment -- about half-a-point less on a seven-point scale, the researchers found.

In the other experiment, the study authors surveyed 100 people multiple times a day over one week. The investigators found that participants got less pleasure from face-to-face socializing if they were texting, e-mailing or using their phones in some other way.

According to Ryan Dwyer, a doctoral student in psychology and the study's lead author, "As useful as smartphones can be, our findings confirm what many of us likely already suspected. When we use our phones while we are spending time with people we care about -- apart from offending them -- we enjoy the experience less than we would if we put our devices away."

Dwyer and Dunn agreed there's a detectable benefit from putting your phone away when spending time with friends and family.

The study was published online in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. It will also be presented Friday at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, in Atlanta.

More information

The National Day of Unplugging offers advice on how to break free of your electronic devices.