Put your phones away to enjoy dinner: UBC study

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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Silver Valley resident Freda du Plessis was photographing bumblebees near Pitt Lake when a “majestic” osprey flew overhead hunting for food. It snagged this fish, and set down on a pole near du Plessis to eat. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Time to feast

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

Bill Longpre shared a picture of the Fraser River and the Golden Ears Bridge as seen from one of the remaining mills along the shore in Albion. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Living life along the Fraser

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

Machine gun on roof of Pitt Meadows municipal hall, circa 1929. (Pitt Meadows Museum & Archives/Special to The News)
LOOKING BACK: German machine gun mystery solved – at least part of it

Recently discovered documents uncovered how war trophies came to exist in Pitt Meadows

Have an opinion you’d like to share? Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or the postal service. (Heather Colpitts/Black Press Media)
LETTER: Maple Ridge resident encourages people to stand up to anti-Asian racism when they see it

Local letter writer can’t understand why people act out against certain groups

Kat Wahamaa marched downtown Vancouver to mark the fifth anniversary of the opioid crisis in B.C. She lost her own son to a fentanyl overdose in 2016. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)
Mothers mark opioid anniversary with march in Vancouver

Former City of Maple Ridge artist-in-residence and Maple Ridge homeless advocate mourn loss of children

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

(Black Press file photo).
Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of April 18

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Most Read