The smartphone is the most personal device we own. More than our keys, wallets or purses, our smartphones are with us at all times. They connect us to our favorite websites, social networks, text messages, email, photos, videos, games and more.
The smartphone has become the most important tool in our lives, but is humanity’s greatest tool ruining our relationships?
The hit television series “Black Mirror” is one of the most popular shows in the United Kingdom and a recent success in the U.S. on Netflix. It’s a science-fiction anthology that focuses on what technology and social media does to our society. Maybe your relationship with the phone isn’t so extreme, but for some it does hinder real-world connections.
Exit Your Bubble
The biggest problem with smartphones is that they put us into a silo. Whether we’re out at dinner with a significant other, at a party or just around friends or family in general, spending time on the phone creates a virtual barrier.
But you can have it both ways. Instead of burying your face into the blue light, take pictures with friends, share funny videos and memes with them or find other ways to make the phone a social experience. The goal here is to bring others into your silo.
Respect ‘No Phone’ Time
It’s fun to share pictures and show funny memes, but there are also times when the phone must stay in the pocket. It doesn’t matter if it’s a first date or 50th wedding anniversary, there are times when pulling out your smartphone and checking social media can ruin the evening. There are three safeguards to resist temptation:
- Put you phone on silent or “do not disturb” mode so you won’t be tempted by any rings or vibrations.
- Turn your phone completely off. The need to power on can be enough of a deterrent not to bother.
- If possible, leave your phone at home.
Switch to a Passive Device
Let’s say disconnecting just isn’t an option. A smartwatch can help staying digital less intrusive to your relationship. Devices like the Apple Watch or Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch connect to your smartphone, texts, emails and more to bring notifications right to your wrist. And since the touch screens of smartwatches are small, it’s not a device you pass time with like a smartphone, so there’s less temptation to use it in social settings.
At the Very Least, No Social Media
Nine times out of 10 we’re looking through social media when our phones are out. That can be especially off-putting to others because we’re essentially ignoring a real person in front of us to look at digital people. It says to that person, “I know you’re right here, and I’m sort of listening, but I’m actually more interested in this other person on my phone.”
Be present with the people you’re with and only check your phone if you’re expecting an important call or text. If you do need to take a call while you’re with someone, apologize for the interruption and ask for permission to take it.