People who keep phones away enjoy dinner more: study

The researchers asked more than 300 people to go to dinner with friends and family at a restaurant.

People who use their smartphones while out for dinner with friends and family enjoy themselves less than those who do not, a study has found.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia in Canada looked at the effect of smartphones on face-to-face social interactions.

"As useful as smartphones can be, our findings confirm what many of us likely already suspected," said Ryan Dwyer, PhD student at University of British Columbia.

"When we use our phones while we are spending time with people we care about - apart from offending them - we enjoy the experience less than we would if we put our devices away," said Dwyer, lead author of the study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

The researchers asked more than 300 people to go to dinner with friends and family at a restaurant.

Participants were randomly assigned to either keep their phones on the table or to put their phones away during the meal.

After the meal, they were asked a variety of questions, including how much they enjoyed the experience.

When phones were present, participants felt more distracted, which reduced how much they enjoyed spending time with their friends and family (about half a point less on a seven-point scale), the researchers found.

Participants also reported feeling slightly more boredom during the meal when their smartphones were present, which the researchers described as surprising.

"We had predicted that people would be less bored when they had access to their smartphones, because they could entertain themselves if there was a lull in the conversation," said Dwyer.

The findings were not only limited to restaurant settings, researchers said.

In a second study involving more than 100 people, participants were sent a survey to their smartphones five times a day for a week that asked how they had been feeling and what they had been doing for the past 15 minutes.

The researchers saw the same pattern, with participants reporting they enjoyed their in-person social interactions less if they had been using their phones.

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