Mental Health

Why You Should Put Your Phone Away

Have you ever spent time with a friend or family member and all they do is look at their phone?

Or have you been that person on the phone?

In 2015, 68% of Canadians owned a cellphone, and they have become a part of everyday life.[1] Nowadays, cell phones have everything: texting, music, games, notebooks, cameras, GPS, web browsers and video chat. They can be with us any where we go.[2] If you have a certain plan with your phone provider, you can access the internet whenever and wherever.

It makes sense that over the years, as the features on the phone improves, you’re going to be on it more.

I love my iPhone. It comes in handy when I need to text someone or look something up, and when I’m bored.

Battery life and data limit are the two main complaints people have about their cell phones.[3] But I love when my battery gets low, because that means I actually have to put it away and enjoy the “real world”.

I love spending time with people in person. “There is a special quality about face-to-face interactions. You can catch the subtle tone in their voice, see their expression as it changes from sad to outraged, and you can look them in the eye to see if you trust them.”[4]

When I’m with someone, I almost never go on my phone unless it’s really important. However, some people pay more attention to their phone than the person they are with. It’s gotten so bad in today’s society that someone coined a term for it – “phubbing.”

According to[5],

  • Phubbing is “the act of snubbing someone in a social setting by looking at your phone instead of paying attention.”
  • “An average restaurant will see 36 cases of phubbing per dinner section.”
  • “97% of people claim their food tasted worse while being a victim of phubbing.”
  • “87% of teens would rather communicate via text than face-to-face.”

People tend to do this for many reasons:

  • It’s an emergency – which is acceptable.
  • They have a fear of missing out – “Fear of missing out or FOMO is ‘a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent’. This social angst is characterized by ‘a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing’.”[6]
  • They feel pressure to be available 24/7 – nowadays, people expect speed. They expect people to answer back as fast as they do. Since a text can be responded to in a minute, people think it’s not much to ask. They get worried and anxious if they don’t get a response, thinking, “They don’t like me,” or, “What if something happened to him/her?”.[7] It also works the other way around. People feel pressure to be available 24/7 and responding to posts or texts immediately to ease the worry and anxiety of their friends.[8]
  • They’re more interested in what’s on the phone than who they are with – I mean, why else would they be on their phone, ignoring you when you’re telling them a story of something amazing that happened to you the other day? There must be something else more important to them. In an article I found, the author writes, “No matter how you put it, I feel texting encroaches on quality time. They say nonverbal communication matters more than the verbal kind. To me, constantly taking out your phone to text is the same as saying, ‘I couldn’t care less about your time and I’d much rather be doing something else.’ You may assure me that’s not the case, but right after you say so you look right back at your phone…”[9]

Maybe I’m being too harsh on that last point; but, when I’m out with my friends or family – especially if I have my own phone away – I should not have to repeat myself multiple times or force them to put their phone down. It’s disrespectful and offensive.

Texting someone to tell them something is one thing, but having your phone in front of your face the majority of the time we’re together is just not acceptable. When it gets to the point where you’re ignoring the person in front of you and not noticing his/her change in tones or expressions, that’s when it becomes unacceptable, and the person you’re hanging out with starts to take offence.

If you’re going to do that, don’t even bother trying to make plans with your friends or family. It’ll just annoy and upset them. If you’re simply too busy with work or something that causes you to have to use your phone the whole time, reschedule the outing.

When you’re out with your friends or family – especially if you haven’t seen them in a while – try and limit your time on your phone or, better yet, put the phone away!


[1] Catalyst. (2015). With Growth Comes Change: The Evolving Mobile Landscape In 2015. Retrieved from

[2]   Tapscott, D. (2008). Grown up digital. United States: McGraw-Hill

[3] Catalyst, 2015

[4] Glaser, M. (2007). How Cell Phones Are Killing Face-to-Face Interactions. Media Shift. Retrieved from



[7] Tapscott, 2008

[8] Chang, L. (2015). FOMO is a real thing, and it’s adversely affecting teens on social media. Digital Trends. Retrieved from

[9] Rico, D. (2013). Please Put Down Your Cell Phone While We’re Having A Conversation. Thought Catalog. Retrieved from

Jessica Victoria
<p>Jessica Victoria, 24, is a writer and advocate for mental health, disability and LGBTQ+. She uses her personal experiences and knowledge to help and educate others.</p>

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