This weekend I saw two articles discussing the impact being frequently available on or frequently using a smartphone has on in-person relationships.
In the first, Motherhood, Screened Off by Susan Dominus in Thursday's New York Times (note, links are to the public site but I highly recommend you use your library's subscription) describes how she feels she has to narrate her use of the smart phone when she's using it to check an address or a recipe or something. In the past, when your mother was doing something besides paying attention to you it was obvious - she had her address book out or checkbook. The piece ends with her annoyed that she can't be using a bit of downtime when she's trying to get her child to sleep to get things done on her phone.
The second was by Sherry Turkle, Stop Googling. Let's Talk from today's New York Times, I guess. In it, she talks about what her research has shown about how the use of smart phones during face-to-face conversations messes them up and also possibly messes up empathy in young adults. She calls for "sacred" spaces (or perhaps times) at home and at work during which use of smartphones is banned - even if to check something.
Both of these hit home with me. I do try to narrate when I'm on the phone when the kids are around and I do for sure ban using the phone at the table- well, I ban myself, I can't do much about my spouse but give him a hard time. I also make an effort to make eye contact with my children and spend time with each of them without the devices, but working from home in the afternoons and evenings as I unfortunately do makes it so the computer is competition.
As for at-work times- I'm in the IT department, that's where they moved the information and research functions a few years ago, and boy howdy do those folks love to have meetings. I have mostly been able to dodge the vast majority of them, but I can't even say how much it enrages me to be taken off an interesting and fun literature search on a cool technology or cool science for actual real sponsor work to be stuck in a meeting where my interlocutor starts texting someone and completely wastes my time.