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Just leave your smartphone in your pocket – using technology during social gatherings steals your happiness

Posted March 1, 2018

Smartphones are great. They help us to connect to our friends and family, entertain us when we‘re bored and can teach us a lot. However, we tend to abuse them at the worst times. Scientists from the University of British Columbia found that those people who used their smartphones during dinner with friends and family enjoyed themselves less than those who did not.

Some people find it difficult to keep away from their smartphones during parties and dinners with friends. Image credit: Tomwsulcer via Wikimedia

This is actually not that surprising – it is kind of a common knowledge at this point that smartphones reduce our happiness. Humans are social animals and face-to-face interaction is the time that makes us the happiest. Not only it is incredibly rude to use your smartphone by the dinner table, it is also reducing your own satisfaction in the occasion. Simply put, everyone would enjoy dinner more if you put your phone away.

Scientists asked 300 people to have dinner with their friends and family. Some participants were asked to keep their smartphone on the table, while the other ones were asked to keep devices away. They didn’t know that is being assessed – scientists didn’t tell participants that their smartphone usage is being monitored. Then participants had to answer a number of questions, including some assessing their satisfaction with the experience. Results were not unexpected – when phone was within easy reach it caused distractions. This meant that the quality of time with close ones was reduced. By half a point in a seven point scale, to be exact.

Interestingly, smartphones did not make people more entertained. When devices were present people were feeling a little bit more bored. This seems surprising, because smartphones offer opportunity of an immediate entertainment.

Another research involving 100 people found that smartphones make us less happy away from the dinner table too. Participants were asked to use their devices five times a day. They reported being less happy with their social interactions when they were using devices. Elizabeth Dunn, senior author of the study, said: “this study tells us that, if you really need your phone, it’s not going to kill you to use it. But there is a real and detectable benefit from putting your phone away when you’re spending time with friends and family.”

It should be a simple decision. You have your phone with you all the time, but spending time with people is precious. And don’t forget – using your phone by the dinner table is very rude.


Source: University of British Columbia

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