Is cell phone use socially contagious? - Dallas News |

Is cell phone use socially contagious?

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Here's a scenario: you're with a friend and she pulls out her cell phone to check a text. All of a sudden you feel the urge to check your phone. Sound familiar? You're not alone.

We all do it. But it turns out actual science is behind the notion that cell phone use is socially contagious.

Researchers at the University of Michigan observed pairs of people between the ages of 16 to 25 and found that people were nearly 40 percent more likely to take out a cell phone if the person they were with checked their phone.

"There's something we have called mirror neurons within our brains so when you yawn, I yawn, when you smile, I smile, when you're checking your cell phone, I'm checking my cell phone because that's part of the social interaction giving ourselves some feedback," says Dr. Jeff Gardere, a clinical psychologist.

The authors behind the study chalk up the results to two possible causes.

The first: that mimicking behavior Dr. Gardere mentioned.

The second: that by using their phone, your companion is excluding you, and you turn to your device to feel a sense of inclusion.

There is no question we're all on our cell phones probably a little bit more than we need to be. But all that texting and tweeting and posting can start to take a toll on our real life relationships.

"The downside of too much cell phone use is you are getting away from real human interaction," Gardere says. "That you're distracted so much you can't get any tasks done."

But we're not likely to put them down anytime soon. A pew research survey found that 29 percent of people said that they can't live without their cell phones.

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