Glued to Your Phone? Three Good Reasons to Step Away.

By Maryann Hammers

Justine Beauregard and her husband were sitting on the couch, watching television. Quality time together, right? Justine thought so — until her husband glanced at her, clearly annoyed.

“Are you planning on spending time with me, or will you be on your phone all night?” he asked.

“[My phone use] was putting a huge strain on our relationship,” admits the 27-year-old marketing professional. “[My husband] felt like I was never fully present. I never noticed how much less attention I paid him while I was on my phone.”

Ironically, the more cell phones connect us to the world, the more disconnected we become. And that can wreak havoc on our relationships, our happiness, and our home lives.

“Our phones are constantly buzzing,” says Kyra Bobinet, MD, MPH, who teaches at Stanford School of Medicine. “When our attention devolves to that of a squirrel, all kinds of things escape us; like eating the whole bag of chips, not completing long-term projects, or bonding with others.”

Here are three reasons to disconnect:

  1. You’ll be more interesting to friends, more appealing to lovers.

Out with friends for lunch? On a date? Hanging with the kids? Turn off the phone and put it away. The mere presence of a phone squashes conversations and face-to-face interactions, according to a 2012 study.[1]

  1. You won’t seem like a jerk.

No one wants to be considered boorish or inappropriate. But if you are overly attached to your cell phone, your behavior is probably both.

Nearly a third of phone users admit to checking their phones while dining with others according to a 2012 study,[2] and 10 percent said they check their phones during religious services. More than a third check their phones while using the bathroom. More than half take their phones to bed — checking them before drifting off to sleep, after they wake, and in the middle of the night.

The researchers describe this behavior as a “new mobile mindset.” Your dining companions, lovers, and fellow worshippers would call it something else: rude.

  1. You’ll get more out of life

When you’re gazing at your phone, you’re missing out on everything else. “[Your phone use] robs you of the beautiful trees, sunshine, and birds — key elements of mental health and well-being,” says Dr. Bobinet.

And your family members — especially children — miss you.

“I have seen parents who are so caught up on their phones that they do not notice their small child staring up at them, hungry for attention and affection,” says Dr. Bobinet.

Abigail Burd, LCSW, a San Diego psychotherapist, cites a “Still Face” experiment[3] in which a mother stares blankly, rather than interacting with her baby. “It is painful to see the baby’s distress at seeing her unresponsive mother,” Burd says. (Watch the video here.)

Look around. If you’re in any sort of public place, chances are, you’re surrounded by similarly blank faces. “That’s what we look like when we stare at our phones,” Burd notes.

As for Justine: Today she allocates specific times for phone use, keeping it silent the rest of the time. She shuts it off at bedtime. And she wrote a book on balance in life, titled To the Women Who Want It All.  “I wrote my book as I curbed use of my cell phone,” she says.

 

REFERENCES

[1] Przybylski A., Weinstein N. Can you connect with me now? How the presence of mobile communications technology influences face-to-face conversation quality. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. May 2013; vol. 30, no. 3: 237-246. Published online before print July 19, 2012, doi: 10.1177/0265407512453827 .

[2] Mobile Mindset Study. Lookout website. Available at https://www.lookout.com/resources/reports/mobile-mindset. June 2012. Accessed March 24, 2025.

[3] Why I want to Look at My Phone Less around My Baby. Abigail Burd, LCSW website. Available at http://www.abigailburdlcsw.com/want-look-phone-less-around-baby/ Accessed March 24,2015.