“I like to hang out with people who make me forget to look at my phone.”

—Author Unknown

Photo from Flickr by Michael Coghlan

Photo from Flickr by Michael Coghlan

Although the smart phone is one of the most amazing devices ever invented, it does have a dark side.

Walk into any restaurant and you’ll see people out to eat as a family, yet tuning out of the experience by looking down at their phones, texting friends or scrolling through social media feeds. What does this mean in terms of the relationships and interpersonal communications that “make the world go round”?

In this YouTube video from Global Report News, we learn that those who are so deeply attached to their phone that they can’t turn it off no matter where they are or what company they are keeping, are less likely to be happy than those who can resist a ring or turn their phones completely off.

A Kent State University Study of 500 students showed that those who were avid mobile phone users suffered from higher anxiety, and their class work was inferior to those who were able and willing to switch off. The phone heightened their anxiety, and many felt obligated to keep in constant touch. I would expect the results to be similar, if not even more profound, if the study were replicated in the workforce.

What if you were to give particular attention today to how often the people around you tune out the rest of the world by focusing on their “magic box”? Great observation spots for this activity would be at the conference table, walking to and from a parking lot, during meals at restaurants or in your home, the library – even in houses of worship. What do you notice?


If you could have a meal with any fascinating person in the world – current, or historical – whom would you choose? How likely would you be to answer your phone in the midst of this meal? How would you feel if they cut you off to take a chatty, informal call? How can you become so interested and engaged that you would never think of of answering or checking your phone, without good reason, in the presence of another person?