Study: Placing Your Cell Phone On the Table At Dinner Is Ruining Everything

It's distracting and takes away from the conversation you're in. 

Is your cell phone on the table at dinner with a friend? Or while you have company? Well, consider it another person. 

Even if you place your phone face down on the table, you’re sending the signal you’re not fully present—even if you’re not looking at it. the presence of a cell phone within sight affects the way people communicate with each other, reports Psychology Today

“Because people use their mobile devices to stay connected with people who are not in close proximity, it’s easy to build a conditioned response to the device and think of it as ‘everyone else,’” reports the study. 

If the phone is visible to other parties, it represents the owner’s social network, and triggers thoughts about other people outside the immediate context. That diverts attention away from what’s happening, so in other words, the person isn’t fully present and in the moment. Untimately, phones that present can have a negative impact on person-to-person relationships.

Two experiments were conducted in the study. In the first, strangers were assigned into pairs, told to leave their phones outside the room and then “discuss an interesting event that occurred to you over the past month,” for ten minutes. Half of the pairs were shown a cell phone (not belonging to either person) placed nearby. After the ten-minutes were up, each person individually filled out forms asking how they felt. 

The pairs with the cell placed nearby rated the relationship lower than the pairs in a room without a cell phone present.

In experiment number two, some of the pairs were told to discuss “thoughts and feelings about plastic holiday trees” while other pairs were instructed to discuss “the most meaningful events of the past year.”

Again, when the cell was in the room participants gave lower ratings on connectivity. 

“The researchers concluded that simply placing the cell in the room interfered with the formation of a new relationship, and that the negative effect of the cell phone was stronger during a meaningful conversation,” says the study. 

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