Recent research answers the question, “What happens when you use your phone during meals?” Okay, okay, so it might not 100%, completely answer the question. But it does bring up some pretty important points that we all need to take note of. Two researchers from the University of British Columbia in Canada saw the growing trend towards using smartphones during meals. And they wanted to know the psychological impact that it has.

So what did the researchers do? Well, they did what researchers tend to do — they researched it. Obviously. The resulting study was recently published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. While the study didn’t find that meal-time phone use had a seriously dramatic effect on person-to-person interactions, it did connect cellphones (when used during dining) with reduced enjoyment.


The difference that phone use during meals made was small, but not insignificant. The study looked at how 300 people interacted with friends or family when having meals. Instead of directly telling the participants that their cell use was being monitored, the researchers gave half the group directions to keep their phones on the table so that they could get a text telling them a study-related question. The researchers told the other group to put their phones away.

Both the phone users and non-phone users answered post-meal questions on how well they enjoyed their meal. Okay, not the actual food. But how well they enjoyed the overall experience of dining with a friend/family member.

The study found that the group who was asked to keep their phones out and wait for a study-related text continued to use them — for 11% of the total meal-time, on average. The researchers also found that these people enjoyed their dining experience less than the group who went phone-free.

Do you think using your phone while dining with others decreases your overall enjoyment? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

—Erica Loop



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