Smartphone Situation: Personal Smartphone Use During Face-To-Face Encounters

Eerik Mantere

Research output: Book/ReportDoctoral thesisCollection of Articles


Smartphone use is common also during face-to-face encounters. Portmanteaus like “phubbing” and “technoference” often feature in media and research, though they offer little more than the meanings of the words comprising them (i.e. phone & snubbing, technology & interference). Previous research suggests negative consequences resulting from smartphone use in social situations. Parental smartphone use predicts child behavioral problems and partner phubbing relationship problems. Less research has been done on how smartphones are engaged with in social situations. No systematization of embodied smartphone engagement previously existed. Less is also known of what, if anything, makes smartphones different than other potential distractions. This dissertation studies smartphone use in collocated encounters with ethnomethodological conversation analysis, quantitative techniques, and content analysis. It introduces three new concepts. Sticky media device depicts how smartphone use can lead to delays and pauses in conversation, and how relates to mutual understandings. Bystander Inaccessibility details how bystanders to smartphone use typically have no epistemic access to why, how, and for how long the device is being used. This obscures shared shared meaning, as meaning of each interactional event forms through its current context—of which the activity of the smartphone user is part of. Smartphone Moves presents a toolkit for analyzing embodied smartphone engagement, and its impact on interaction. Smartphones may challenge the formation of intersubjectivity by requiring finite interactive resources to be distributed between face-to-face and face- to-screen interactions. Gaze, conscious evaluation, and corporal orientation are at times relevant in both. Smartphone is a hub for more activities than any other daily object, yet its use typically gives the least cues on the activity being done with it. Adjustments of embodied smartphone engagement, however, also adjust conversational engagement, making multiple concurrent engagements intelligible. The dissertation suggests a negative correlation between phubbing and social intelligence, the improvement of which, might mitigate phubbing-related conflicts.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTampere
ISBN (Electronic)978-952-03-2694-4
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (articles)

Publication series

NameTampere University Dissertations - Tampereen yliopiston väitöskirjat
ISSN (Print)2489-9860
ISSN (Electronic)2490-0028


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