Smartphones vs old-school conversation

  • 07/09/2015
Smartphones vs old-school conversation

By Sarah Stewart

Where is your mobile phone right now? For many of us, it'll be within arm's reach, and that includes at the dinner table.

One Auckland pub is now begging diners to leave their phones in the car and just enjoy their meals.

So how bad is it? What is it doing to conversation?

Story lured eight unsuspecting diners to Auckland's Ika restaurant. Before you could say "spot that camera above you" the screens lit up, in just 90 seconds.

Psychologist Marc Wilson watched things unfold.

"Texting under the table even though everyone knows that's exactly what you're doing – it seems to suggest a subtle understanding that maybe cellphones are against the rules in these types of social settings."

But the younger subjects struggle to disconnect, and 22-year-old Isaiah, once he does pick it up for a quick selfie for the mates, he can't put it down – 15 times in 17 minutes.

Mr Wilson says research shows smartphones are making some young people anxious.

"They feel an obligation to be available to be their friends. They feel an obligation to reply quickly to their friends. In fact, they get quite frustrated when other people don't respond. There's a pressure. It's got to be now.

"It actually changes the way everyone else interacts as well. We may think we're good at multitasking, but we're not."

While it's great being in touch with the world, are you losing touch with the person right in front of you?

1. Play the phone stack game – Friends pile up their phones on the table at the start of an evening, with the loser being the first person who grabs their device. They have to pick up the tab.

2. Use an app (oh the irony)

Forest You can plant a seed in Forest. In the next 30 minutes, this seed will gradually grow into a tree. However, if you cannot resist the temptation and leave the app to check Facebook or play a game, your tree will wither away. With this interesting mechanism, the sense of achievement and responsibility will drive users to stay away from their phone with no pain.

Apple Tree Students in Singapore have won $30,000 to develop an app where two or more users put their phones together. A virtual apple tree grows on the screen. The longer the phones remain together but untouched, the more apples grow on the tree. They want to partner with retailers to offer discounts in exchange for apples.

Watch the video for the full Story report.