A couple of months ago, Marisa Murray stepped out to grab a bite to eat with a friend.
The restaurant they chose was busy, and the table they sat at was shoehorned between two large families. They didn’t mind, but as Murray settled in, she found herself paying more attention to the people at the tables beside her than the person at her own.
What caught the clinical psychology student’s eye was that the families were socializing, but not with each other: Everyone, from the children to the grandparents, was nose deep in an electronic device.
“It was so strange. There was no conversation. Within the family, everyone had a cellphone. They ordered their appetizers, then they all got back to their device. There was minimal conversation among the family members,” said Murray, who studies at the University of Ottawa. “The conversation that was happening was along the lines of who was updating Facebook, what they were tweeting or a game they were playing. I couldn’t believe it. To witness firsthand what I have been reading in peer-review journal articles, it boggled my mind.”