The iPhone Effect (a Case for Active Social Engagement)

How close are you with your smartphone? For a lot of people, itís the last thing they look at before they go to sleep and the first thing they reach for in the morning. Thatís not healthy anyway, but if youíre in a relationship itís even more of a problem.

Our smartphones arenít just causing problems in the bedroom, though. Their negative influence extends to all our social engagements, be that in the workplace or when weíre with friends and family.

The iPhone Effect

In a 2014 study aptly named The iPhone Effect, researchers examined the quality of in-person social interactions in the presence of mobile devices. What they found is that conversations without phones present were rated significantly better than those with phones present.

Given that most people find it almost impossible to ignore their phone when it rings or alerts them to a message, thatís hardly surprising. But the study also revealed that even when they are not in active use, simply being in the†presence of a smartphone will draw your attention away from the conversation.

Smartphones, they concluded, gave people the constant urge to seek out information, check for messages and direct their thoughts elsewhere. Think about it, how many times have you been out with friends†and†before you know it what should have been IRL†quality time†has turned into a social media party?

It may seem innocuous, but this behavior prevents us from being fully present. Our attention is always half on the conversation and half in the world inside our smartphone.

In our increasingly online-focused world, itís more important than ever that we move away from our digital lives and focus instead on building in-person relationships. We canít do that, however, if our smartphones are always at hand.

Put the Phone Away and Pay Attention

the iphone effect

Even though I wouldnít answer my phone or respond to messages when I was out with others, Iíd still keep it in sight whenever I was. (Undercover smartphone addict, perhaps?) When I learnt about the study I began leaving it in my bag (on silent).

The difference is significant. Iíve noticed that Iím a lot more focused and in the moment. Maybe itís in my head, I donít know. Itís doesnít matter though, because the conversations Iím having nowadays are more rewarding as a result.

Thereís definitely a place for smartphones in our lives. We can use them to find a hotel, call a cab, navigate a new town and even make a difference in the world. The problem is, as this self-diagnosed tech addict discovered, they can be all-consuming.

According to Chris Barťz-Brown, bestselling author of Wake Up! A Handbook to Living in the Here and Now: 54 Playful Strategies to Help You Snap Out of Autopilot, we check our smartphones on average 221 times a day. That fact alone is proof that we could all use a digital detox.

Make the Holidays Matter

Weíre heading for the silly season, that time of year when people spend money on stuff that come January probably wonít mean a thing. Unwrapping gifts on Christmas morning is fun, donít get me wrong. (Iíd like chocolate and red wine please, Santa!)

But what about giving something that doesnít cost a cent, but means the world? This year, letís give the gift of attention. Make a pact to leave your smartphone out of the celebrations and commit to being fully present instead. Who knows, maybe youíll enjoy the experience so much that youíll make it a habit in 2017.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

46 comments

Jerome S
Jerome S1 days ago

thanks

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Jerome S
Jerome S1 days ago

thanks

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 days ago

thanks for sharing

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 days ago

thanks for sharing

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Mike R
Mike R5 days ago

Thanks

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Mike R
Mike R5 days ago

Thanks

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ANA MARIJA R
ANA MARIJA R8 days ago

I'm blessed that still All my important people knows the value of NOW & HERE💕

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Karen P
Karen P18 days ago

I've heard of this ridiculous over reliance on smart arse phones (my name for the suckers) described as 'infantile masturbation' and I truly believe it. It is beyond pathetic seeing people walking the dog/baby, wherever the hell they are, opposite a friend in a coffee shop also fiddling around on their phone, seriously why bother meeting a friend if all you are going to is twiddle about on a bloody phone. Heads down, no awareness of what is going on around them, stepping out in front of your car, it makes me sick how bloody pathetic people have become.

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Carl R
Carl R18 days ago

Thanks!!!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cABVKIPk_u0

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Greta H
Greta H18 days ago

Don't have one. Don't want one.

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