Don't use your phones during mealtimes or risk your own enjoyment, says new study

Researchers from the University of British Columbia in Canada have found that using your phone during a meal could negatively affect your own enjoyment.
Researchers from the University of British Columbia in Canada have found that using your phone during a meal could negatively affect your own enjoyment.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

You probably already know this, but using your phones at the dinner table is not a good idea - and new research shows not doing so is for your own good.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia in Canada have found that using your phone during a meal could negatively affect your own enjoyment.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Experimental Social Pyschology, found that phones at the table means distracted diners who are less socially engaged.

According to one of the researchers Elizabeth Dunn, the difference may be small but it still has a significant enough impact.

The professor of psychology was quoted by Time magazine as saying: "(Phones) do make a difference. But it's a small enough difference that you could easily overlook it and not even necessarily realise how phones are altering your experience in subtle ways during social interactions."

The study involved 300 people, who were asked to have dinner with friends or family.

Half of the group were told to keep their phones on the table, as they would receive a question related to the study by text during the meal, while the other half were told to keep their phones as they would receive the questions on paper.

 
 
 

While the meal was intended to observe the effect of phone use on the dining experience, the researchers did not tell the participants the true intent of the study.

After the meal, all participants were surveyed on their levels of enjoyment, phone use, and overall dining experience.

The experiment found that even when the phone users were engaging in face-to-face interactions, they felt more distracted and had lower enjoyment.

Distraction among phone users also meant higher levels of boredom and a worse overall mood, according to the study.

In a second experiment involving more than 100 people, researchers texted survey questions to participants five times a day for a week.

The participants were asked about their emotional state and what they had been doing in the past 15 minutes.

Researchers found that if participants were on their phone while having a face-to-face interaction, they enjoyed the interaction less than those who were doing so without a phone.

The experiment also debunked the notion that younger people might be more skilled at multitasking and might be "immune" to the negative effects of phone usage on social interactions.

It noted that "even moderate levels of phone use... are sufficient to create the feelings of distraction that undermine the emotional rewards of social interaction".

Dr Dunn told Time magazine that using your phone could be contagious, and that people should try to resist using their phones in social settings.

"People are more likely to use their phones when others around them are also using their phones, so that suggests there may be this sort of domino effect," she said.

"By putting your own phone away, you might be creating a positive domino effect."