How to Keep Your Smartphone from Hurting Your Relationships

A mindful relationship with our phones is the key to balancing in-person interactions and online activity. Here are six ways to limit screen time in order to be more present in our real-world relationships.

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By 2016, 77 percent of U.S. adults owned a smartphone. Although they’re just small rectangular objects in our pockets, smartphones are leading to significant shifts in how we interact with the world.

Sensationalist news headlines tell us that “smartphones have destroyed a generation” and “social media is ripping apart society.” But what does the research say?

Indeed, young people who use electronic devices more tend to experience greater depression and worse mood. And smartphones seem to be particularly problematic for relationships, leading to social interactions that are lower-quality and less empathic. But there are a wide range of ways you can use your smartphone—from taking photos with your friends to envious Facebook stalking—and only some of them are detrimental.

So, how do you keep your smartphone from harming your connection to others? These research-backed strategies can help protect your relationships in a variety of social situations.

1. Don’t replace face-to-face interactions with electronic interactions

The amount of time we spend using electronic communication has increased considerably since the release of the smartphone. Because we only have a limited amount of…