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Hello Humankindness, Good-bye Device Distraction


Do people spend too much time on their cell phones? That was the opening question Dignity Health posed when setting out to uncover exactly what the escalating preoccupation with digital devices was doing to our health and our relationships.

Devicing your day away

Dignity Health's research uncovered quantitative insight that links device usage with the further distancing of human interaction. Chief among the findings was that adults use their smartphones roughly 133.8 times each day. For 18 and 19-year olds, that number jumps to 206.3 times a day.

How do you feel when someone looks at his or her phone, instead of looking at you? Words like "annoyed," "frustrated," and "unappreciated" topped the list in the study. Not surprisingly, people are more frustrated by device distraction from their loved ones and family members, rather than a co-worker or casual friend.

Blame and guilt and frustration, oh my!

Those surveyed said that it's not uncommon when friends social share news about the death of a friend or loved one on social media. This practice is so prevalent that 75 percent of respondents said they hear about major life events such as engagement or baby announcements through their social channels.

What's it doing to the relationships we hold most dear? Many reported that initial annoyance over a partner's excessive cell phone use often escalates into a larger disagreement. Both men and women agree, that frustration is amplified during date nights.

Some participants started laying down the law by instigating house rules, like no phones at the dinner table. While most admit that people, in general, spend too much time on their phones, they also say, "I'm guilty of it."

Increased neck issues, in addition to other health problems

Stress-related problems reported from smartphone use included symptoms ranging from neck pain, blurred vision and headaches, to tired eyes and even back pain. And 11 percent of those surveyed either had a car crash or a fender bender due to smartphone use.

Are "likes" worth more than real-life, loving relationships?

This study suggests that distractions from our devices leads to missed human interaction that is critical to living longer, healthier lives. Turns out that morning "hello," or holding someone's hand, smiling at a complete stranger, these connections are good for our health. So before you roll out of bed, take a minute to say, "I love you" to the person next to you. You might not get a hundred likes on your social page, but you will get a very human "I love you" back.

Do you think people spend too much time on their smartphones? Use the hashtag #TakeBackYourMorning on social media – well after you've said that first "I love you" – and tell us what you think.

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