It’s distracting even if you don’t use it.
Researchers asked more than 300 diners to either put their cell phones on the table or in a designated container. Unsurprisingly, when their phones were placed out of sight, people used them less often and felt less distracted. But those participants also enjoyed the outing more, according to the findings, presented at the American Psychological Association’s annual conference.
You don’t have to use your phone for it to have a negative effect on your social life. “People attach symbolic value to their smartphones—they’re a source of comfort and of contact to the wider world,” says study author Shalini Misra, Ph.D., assistant professor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Its mere presence is a visual reminder of other people and places, and thus a distraction.
THE BOTTOM LINE
You’ll enjoy social interactions more if you put your phone away, whether that means stashing it in your bag, a jacket pocket, or another room. And set it to silent. The sounds of calls or texts coming in is distracting even if you don’t check the alerts, Misra says.