Put your phones away to enjoy dinner: UBC study

Researchers find smartphones actually add to the boredom when eating out with friends and family

Smartphones might make people feel more connected, but they likely don’t belong at the dinner table, according to new research from the University of British Columbia.

In a study released this week, researchers looking at the effect of smartphones on face-to-face social interactions found that people who used their devices while out for dinner with friends and family enjoyed themselves less than those who did not.

The study’s lead author and psychology PhD student Ryan Dwyer said the results confirm what many 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,” he said in a news release.

The team watched 300 people go to dinner with friends and family, with some being directed to keep their phones on the table and others to put them away.

The researchers did not tell those being observed they were being monitored for their smartphone use.

The study found that people whose phones were present felt more distracted and didn’t enjoy spending time with their fellow diners. They also said they felt more boredom during meals.

“We had predicted that people would be less bored when they had access to their smartphones, because they could entertain themselves if there was a lull in the conversation,” Dwyer said.

The findings were not only limited to restaurant settings.

In a second study involving more than 100 people, participants were sent a survey to their smartphones five times a day for a week that asked how they had been feeling and what they had been doing for the past 15 minutes.

The researchers saw the same pattern, with people reporting they enjoyed their in-person social interactions less if they had been using their phones.

Elizabeth Dunn, the study’s senior author and professor at UBC’s department of psychology, said the findings add a layer to the ongoing debate over the effects of smartphones on public health.

“An important finding of happiness research is that face-to-face interactions are incredibly important for our day-to-day wellbeing,” said Dunn.

“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.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Where to find community holiday feasts in Langley

A variety of groups are hosting free meals for the Langley community to fill up on.

Looking for the buzz on Langley tree chipping events

Send us details on tree chipping events so we can help spread the word.

Surrey boy’s birthday wish raises $13,500 for rescued farm animals in Aldergrove

Matthew Farden received a large donation from the mister Blake Foundation towards a sanctuary farm.

Langley Mounties get new tool to find drunk drivers

New legislation take effect this week that will allow broader breathalyzer testing.

BCIHL Young Stars lose hard-fought hockey game to Kazakhstan at Langley Events Centre

Coach calls it ‘a great opportunity for those guys to have an international experience’

VIDEO: Ex-NASA engineer pranks mail thieves with glitter bomb trap

Package thefts are common this time of year, but YouTuber Mark Rober used his engineering skills

Lightning top Canucks 5-2 in feisty battle

NHL’s No. 1 team too much for Vancouver

Coquihalla closed between Hope and Merritt

The highway is closed in the northbound lane

FortisBC says you can return to normal gas use following pipeline fire

Utility says increased pipeline capacity, warmer weather have allowed supply to reach normal levels

CSIS collected info on peaceful groups, but only in pursuit of threats: watchdog

Security Intelligence Review Committee says fears unjustified after reviewing evidence, testimony

Lower Mainland man receives apology after getting kicked out of library

Mike Wilson fears the same treatment he received Nov. 2 by security guards will happen to others

Canada ranks 16th on annual gender gap list

This is the second year Canada has placed 16th in the World Economic Forum’s list

VIDEO: Tornado rips through city west of Seattle

Reports indicate five to seven homes damaged in Port Orchard, Wash.

Trial date postponed for man charged with killing Abbotsford police officer

Oscar Arfmann’s trial pushed back from January to May 2019

Most Read