Is your smartphone ruining your social life?

Why experts say an app that helps you put down smartphones during meals and socializing more is a good idea for those who can't self-regulate.
. Devin Sauer / Global News

TORONTO – The next time you are sitting down to dinner with your family, or meeting up with your friends for a drink, here’s a tip: Put your phone down.

According to a new survey by the Pew Research Center, 82 per cent of smartphone users believe that using phones in social situations can hurt the conversation. Similarly, 88 per cent of smartphone users believe it’s “generally” rude to use your phone during dinner.

And yet while many respondents said they find it disruptive, 89 per cent admitted to using their phone during their most recent social gathering, whether it was to send a text, take a photo, or receive a call.

“This ‘always-on’ reality has disrupted long-standing social norms about when it is appropriate for people to shift their attention away from their physical conversations and interactions with others, and towards digital encounters with people and information that are enabled by their mobile phone,” said Pew Research Center’s director of Internet, science and technology research, Lee Rainie.

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“These are issues with important social consequences. Norms of etiquette are not just small-scale social niceties. They affect fundamental human interactions and the character of public spaces.”

The survey – which polled over 3,000 U.S. smartphone users – found that people are pretty good at finding excuses as to when it’s acceptable to use their phones in social situations.

Many people who admitted to using their phones during social outings said they do things that connected them to the gathering. For example, 45 per cent of people posted pictures or videos from the event on social media.

Men were more likely to say it was socially acceptable to use their phones when out than women. And, unsurprisingly, those aged 18 to 29 were the most accepting of using devices in social scenarios.