The problem: Constantly checking your phone while spending time with people takes away from your relationships, and it might even be making people see you differently. In a recent University of Essex study, participants reported a lack of empathy and relationship connection if there was a cell phone in view -- even if no one actually touched the phone. And in a different study from the University of Maryland, researchers found that after a short period of cell phone use, people were less likely to participate in "prosocial" behavior, like volunteering or helping others. Scientists believe this is because humans have a fundamental need to connect with others, but once that need is met via cell phone, it makes us less inclined to feel empathy or a desire to help others.
The solution: "The key is to stop it from being that stimulus for anxiety," Dr. Rosen says. Remind yourself that you can check your phone later, and tuck it into your bag while spending time with friends and family. Hopefully, you will end up enjoying yourself so much that you won't feel the need to do a digital or phone check-in.
Originally published on FitnessMagazine.com, January 2013.
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