New research suggests that spending time on our phone when in the presence of others is harmful to us (and not just rude). As it turns out, choosing to connect with our phone (instead of others) is not good for us.
So when faced with facing your phone or facing a friend, err on the side of heart. Connect with the person face-to-face. Besides, your phone doesn't give a damn about you.
In short, the more attuned to others you become, the healthier you become, and vice versa. This mutual influence also explains how a lack of positive social contact diminishes people. Your heart’s capacity for friendship also obeys the biological law of “use it or lose it.” If you don’t regularly exercise your ability to connect face to face, you’ll eventually find yourself lacking some of the basic biological capacity to do so.
And, as a parent, I found this scary:
Work in social genomics reveals that our personal histories of social connection or loneliness, for instance, alter how our genes are expressed within the cells of our immune system. New parents may need to worry less about genetic testing and more about how their own actions — like texting while breast-feeding or otherwise paying more attention to their phone than their child — leave life-limiting fingerprints on their and their children’s gene expression.
So the next time you see a friend, or a child, spending too much of their day facing a screen, extend a hand and invite him back to the world of real social encounters. You’ll not only build up his health and empathic skills, but yours as well. Friends don’t let friends lose their capacity for humanity.
Email can wait. So can those Facebook updates. Let's all make a commitment to be more human - like, way more human - and leave all those bings, beeps, tweets, and buzzes for another time. I, for one, have never regretted time spent with those I love. On the other hand, I am rarely delighted when scrolling, pinching, and zooming just to avoid boredom.