But what else are you supposed to do?!
We know the feeling. Say you’re waiting for a friend to meet you at a restaurant. Or you’re standing on the sidelines of a large group conversation. Maybe you’re avoiding eye contact on public transportation. These all seem like ideal scenarios to whip out the ultimate portable and convenient diversion: your smartphone.
You might even feel impaired when you don’t have this distraction to lean on.
But looking down at your phone screen isn’t really the fabulous idea you thought it was. When you’re feeling anxious, it’s actually one of the worst things you could do. Despite how appealing repeatedly checking a desolate iMessage inbox might seem, looking down at your smartphone only serves to make your social anxiety worse.
How phones affect our confidence
Every time you look down, not only are you repeatedly reminded that you’re not getting any text messages, but science also suggests that the simple movement could have an unfavorable side effect on your mood. It has the potential to undermine your confidence and cause you to feel more awkward rather than mitigating any brooding tension.
You see, when you look down at your phone, you have to hunch over. Your posture curves to fix your gaze over your small device. And when your shoulder blades cave and your neck hinges downward, you’re feeding into more harmful effects than just the kink in your back.
Our posture has a forceful effect on our psyche, actually serving to make us less confident as our physical stance alters.
A study was conducted on this phenomenon at the University of Auckland. It confirmed the worst: That those who slouched experienced significantly lowered self-esteem and mood. Interestingly enough, they also reported higher levels of fear in uncomfortable social situations. Even the witticisms and chatter they engaged in was affected — the group that slouched voiced statements that were inherently more negative and less engaging than the group that stood up straight.
The New York Times published a comprehensive review of the effect of iPhone checking, concluding that the more you look down at your phone, the less confident and the more submissive you become. By looking at your smartphone, you’re making the tension worse.
The only way to avoid these conversation-crippling results?
Keep your shoulders back and head facing forwards as you check your phone, even if that means holding the screen directly in front of your face — which, as we all know, would look ridiculous. Really, the only feasible option is to quit using phone-checking as a diversion entirely.
Refrain from looking at your phone when you’re in an awkward situation. It might seem like you’re breaking the tension or that scrolling through Facebook is giving you something to do, but it’s actually just making you feel less confident and more uncomfortable.
Instead, look around. Smile at a stranger, talk to someone new, or just stand tall, confident, and silent while you wait. We promise — those few idle seconds won’t be so bad.