Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn
What’s the Latest Development?
Studies done at the University of Essex confirm what some of us who are married to our smartphones (or know someone who is) may have suspected: Despite its many benefits, advanced cell phone technology can negatively affect how you engage with others in face-to-face interactions. In one experiment, pairs of strangers were asked to discuss a somewhat personal topic in a room that contained a desk with a book and a second item on it. Afterwards, they completed questionnaires on the quality of the interaction. Subjects reported a lower quality of interaction when the second item on the desk was a cell phone. A follow-up experiment, in which the topic of discussion varied between casual and meaningful, showed that the subjects felt less trust and empathy when the topic was meaningful and a cell phone was in the room.
What’s the Big Idea?
“Past studies have suggested that because of the many social, instrumental, and entertainment options [cell] phones afford us, they often divert our attention from our current environment, whether we are speeding down a highway or sitting through a meeting. The new research suggests that cell phones may serve as a reminder of the wider network to which we could connect, inhibiting our ability to connect with the people right next to us. Cell phone usage may even reduce our social consciousness.”
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