We know that smartphones are changing the way we interact with people around the world. Combined with social media, we are now able to interact with “friends” no matter where or when we find ourselves. We are also spending more time engaging with articles, games, and other distractions instead of engaging our immediate surroundings.
But how does this impact our interactions with people who are in our immediate surroundings? Does all this virtual contact lead to less face to face contact? That’s what researchers at several universities, including the University of California at Irvine, wanted to find out. They found that, yes, people with their smartphones interacted less. And, although the things we do on our phones are supposedly fun, people smiled less with their cell phones than those who didn’t have their phones.
Waiting Room Interactions
For this study, researchers assigned people to wait for 10 minutes with another person. Pairs were randomly selected to either have their smartphone or not. Researchers then recorded the interactions and compared the people who had their phone versus those who did not.
They found, first, that people waiting without their phones were much more likely to interact. Of the pairs waiting with their phones, 32 didn’t interact at all, but of the pairs waiting without their phones, only 6 didn’t interact.
Then researchers analyzed the amount of time each person spent smiling. They found that people who waited without their phones exhibited a Duchenne–or “true” smile about 30% more than people who waited with their phone, 149 seconds vs. 103 seconds.
However, this change isn’t just related to people spending a lot of time on their phones. Instead, researchers found that even briefly looking at one’s phone could lead to much less interaction and therefore less smiling. They suspect that even briefly checking one’s phone sent subtle signals of disinterest, something that could affect even pairs of old friends or intimate couples.
Smiling Brings Us Together
Smiling is a critical part of our social makeup. It helps us to feel better about ourselves, and better about others. Smiling is also an important social tool that helps us to express engagement with others around us, and to feel their engagement with us.
Without smiling, we are more likely to be and to feel isolated from people around us. This may ultimately be a significant part of the reason why many people feel more isolated and alone than in the past. Our virtually connected life has made us less personally connected to those around us.
What Is Keeping You from Smiling?
With the insights of this research, it seems logical that people who want to feel more connected to the people around them should either carry their phone less or, at least, check their phones less often.
However, smartphones aren’t the only obstacle that keeps people from smiling on a daily basis. If you feel self-conscious about your smile, it can keep you from sharing it with those around you. And that can also be damaging to our feelings of engagement and connectedness.
If you feel that an unattractive smile is keeping you from freely expressing yourself, we can help. A cosmetic dentistry smile makeover can give you a beautiful smile that you will love to share.