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

Around the BCHL: Chilliwack Chiefs snag spot in CJHL national rankings

Around the BCHL is a look at what’s happening in the BCHL and the junior A world.

Mental health first aid course comes to Chilliwack

The two-day course will take place at the Coast Hotel on Nov. 1 and 2 from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Mental fitness questioned of man charged in Chilliwack River Valley shooting

Peter Kampos told his lawyer ‘his dreams are being stolen and turned into drugs’ at Surrey Pre-trial

Jason Lum was the top vote-getter on Chilliwack council

New Chilliwack council will be sworn in at inaugural council meeting on Nov. 6

West Van Highlanders beat Sardis Falcons on last second field goal

The Falcons fell 17-14 on home field and will finish the BC High School football season on the road.

B.C. sailor surprised by humpback whale playing under her boat

Jodi Klahm-Kozicki said the experience was ‘magical’ near Denman Island

Around the BCHL: Chilliwack Chiefs snag spot in CJHL national rankings

Around the BCHL is a look at what’s happening in the BCHL and the junior A world.

Rural regions get priority for B.C. referendum mail-out

Ballot security measures aim to protect against voter fraud

B.C.’s natural gas supply could see 50% dip through winter due to pipeline blast

It’s been two weeks since the Enbridge pipeline ruptured near Prince George on Oct. 9, sparking a large fireball

Mega Millions, Powerball prizes come down to math, long odds

Biggest myth: The advertised $1.6 billion Mega Millions prize and $620 million Powerball prize aren’t quite real

2 Canadians advance to finals at world wrestling championships

Olympic champion Erica Wiebe just missed joining them with a loss 3-1 to three-time world champion Adeline Gray of the United States in the 76-kg event

VIDEO: Fire destroys historic small-town B.C. restaurant

Two people were injured as fire ripped through the Hedley restaurant around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday

B.C. town’s mayoral race a tie, come down to luck of the draw

Harry Gough led incumbent Cindy Fortin by one vote on election night Saturday

Outdoor retailer MEC vows to boost diversity after online complaint

Mountain Equipment Co-op was criticized for perpetuating a white-only picture of the outdoors

Most Read