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Taylor Swift, the ice bucket challenge, and Justin Bieber’s Calvin Klein ads have all “broken the internet,” but what would you do if the interwebs were really down? Would you feel lost without Instagram? Do you struggle to put down your phone? Are you among the 73 percent of students in our recent survey who admitted to texting someone in the same room? If so, you may be nocial. Both introverts and extroverts can acquire this 21st-century condition. Find out if you are nocial, why it matters, and what to do about it.

#1

You’re on a date with the person you like (a lot). Are you on your phone?

Yeah, more than twice

You're nocial

Uh-oh, nocial alert. “Some students use their smart phone as a way to cope with [uncomfortable] social situations,” says Dr. Fjola Helgadottir, a Psychologist at Oxford University, UK. “As a result…you miss out on an opportunity to confront your fear, which is the best way to improve.” In a recent survey by Student Health 101, 13 percent of respondents admitted to checking their phone multiple times on a movie date.

Tips…

  • Before your date, wrap a thick rubber band around your phone. If you reach for it, the rubber band will act as a tactile reminder to leave your phone alone.
  • “Put your phone away. Allow yourself to focus on who you are with,” says Sasha D., a third-year undergraduate at Trent University, Ontario. Better yet, keep your phone turned off so you’re reminded not to use it except in emergencies.

No...well, maybe once or twice, max.

You're social

Congrats, you’re social.

Tips…

  • Before your date, wrap a thick rubber band around your phone. If you reach for it, the rubber band will act as a tactile reminder to leave your phone alone.
  • “Put your phone away. Allow yourself to focus on who you are with,” says Sasha D., a third-year undergraduate at Trent University, Ontario. Better yet, keep your phone turned off so you’re reminded not to use it except in emergencies.
#2

You’re eating with friends.
Do they tell you to put your phone away?

Yes, unless they're on their phones, too.

You're nocial

Guess what, you’re being nocial—you and 33 percent of the students who responded to our survey. Research shows that being around other people in person makes us happier than being alone. When you’re happy, you can make other people happier too, according to a 2008 study by researchers at Harvard University.

Tips…

  • Make the change. “Be in the present. It's easy to be obsessed about something online and to be elsewhere when someone's talking to you. Instead, try to listen to what he or she is telling you and ask questions to keep the conversation going,” says Lisa K., a fourth-year undergraduate at Queen’s University, Ontario.
  • Make a group pact against technology. “When you meet with friends, have everyone put their phones in one place and leave them,” says Noah C., a fourth-year undergraduate at the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton. Out to dinner? Play the phone stack game. The first person to give in to phone FOMO gets the tab.

No, my phone is already away.

You're social

And your life is richer for it.

Tips…

  • Make the change. “Be in the present. It's easy to be obsessed about something online and to be elsewhere when someone's talking to you. Instead, try to listen to what he or she is telling you and ask questions to keep the conversation going,” says Lisa K., a fourth-year undergraduate at Queen’s University, Ontario.
  • Make a group pact against technology. “When you meet with friends, have everyone put their phones in one place and leave them,” says Noah C., a fourth-year undergraduate at the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton. Out to dinner? Play the phone stack game. The first person to give in to phone FOMO gets the tab.
#3

You have just been notified that you’ve made a team or been awarded a scholarship. How do you first share the news?

Post “I did it!!! :-)” on social media.

You're nocial

Sharing positive experiences in person makes us happier in the long term, according to the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships (2012). We don’t get the same level of social support via Facebook, a study in the Public Library of Science journal suggests (2013). And having real-life friends to share news with has a bigger positive impact on our well-being than having a network of online friends, according to an analysis of results from a Canadian survey in PLoS ONE journal (2013).

Tips…

  • Long distance? Use Skype, FaceTime, or the dial pad. “If they are far away and you cannot visit, call them! Oftentimes if something is wrong we can hide it via text message, but it is easily heard by their tone of voice,,” says Laura B., a second-year undergraduate at Memorial University of Newfoundland.
  • Uninstall a social media app from your phone. You can still log on from your computer, but you won’t be constantly checking it when you’re out.

Hunt down your friends and tell them in person.

You're social

You’re social on this one, like three out of five students in our survey. “Face to face [is best because] you can see emotions. Texting is emotionless, even with emojis,” says Catherine L., a fifth-year undergraduate at the University of Alberta.

Tips…

  • Long distance? Use Skype, FaceTime, or the dial pad. “If they are far away and you cannot visit, call them! Oftentimes if something is wrong we can hide it via text message, but it is easily heard by their tone of voice,,” says Laura B., a second-year undergraduate at Memorial University of Newfoundland.
  • Uninstall a social media app from your phone. You can still log on from your computer, but you won’t be constantly checking it when you’re out.
#4

When you’re in bed, do you text and check social media?

Of course, scrolling through updates is how I unwind.

You're nocial

You’re a nocial night owl. In our survey, four in five students admitted to texting or checking social media in bed. You know it’s wrecking your sleep, right? And lack of sleep wrecks everything else. “The screens emit blue light, which can suppress the natural production of melatonin,” says Dr. Laura Creti, a Psychologist at the Insomnia Clinic at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, Quebec. “And doing something social like having a conversation can be stimulating enough to keep you awake for longer.

Tips…

Place your phone out of reach overnight so both you and it can recharge. Airplane mode muffles notifications but not your alarm.

No, I don't want to sabotage my energy for socializing tomorrow.

You're social

You’re keeping it old school—in the best way.

Tips…

Place your phone out of reach overnight so both you and it can recharge. Airplane mode muffles notifications but not your alarm.

#5

When you’re talking to someone, are you more comfortable looking at your phone or looking into their eyes?

Phone

You're nocial

Over one in three of our survey respondents chose this answer. Twenty-first century adults make eye contact 30–60 percent of the time during a conversation, according to data from Quantified Communications. To make an emotional connection, we need 60–70 percent eye contact.

Tips…

  • Become a phone-free role model and lead by example. “When you see someone you know and you want to connect with them in person, just walk up to them and talk. Don’t wait until later to text them and say ‘Hey, I saw you today. We should hang out,’” says Esther D., a second-year undergraduate at the University of Victoria, British Columbia.
  • Take the eye-contact test: “Do you know the eye colour of your friends?” asks Xiang W., a second-year graduate student at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Practice with yourself in the mirror.

Eyes

You're social

Keep your eyes on the prize. You’re being social.

Note: If holding eye contact is very distracting or uncomfortable for you, a momentary eye-connection every couple of minutes helps the other person know that you’re still part of the conversation.

Tips…

  • Become a phone-free role model and lead by example. “When you see someone you know and you want to connect with them in person, just walk up to them and talk. Don’t wait until later to text them and say ‘Hey, I saw you today. We should hang out,’” says Esther D., a second-year undergraduate at the University of Victoria, British Columbia.
  • Take the eye-contact test: “Do you know the eye colour of your friends?” asks Xiang W., a second-year graduate student at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Practice with yourself in the mirror.
#6

You’re in class. Do you check your phone for notifications?

Often enough that I fall behind in my note taking and don't know the names of my classmates.

You're nocial

Definitely nocial, like two in five students who took our survey. In a 2013 study, more than 80 percent of students acknowledged that their gadgets interfere with their learning, and one in four said this hurts their grades, according to the Journal of Media Education.

Tips…

  • Start simple. “Always say one word, even if it’s hello. It breaks the ice. Just ask how their day is going,” says Melissa W., a third-year undergraduate at the University of Saskatchewan. Before-class mingling can help you make friends in class.
  • Take a risk: “Be outgoing and start conversations even if you don’t know someone. The worst that happens is they ignore you,” says Nathan S., a fourth-year undergraduate at Mount Allison University, New Brunswick.

No, or rarely.

You're social

You’re a double winner, socially and academically.

Tips…

  • Start simple. “Always say one word, even if it’s hello. It breaks the ice. Just ask how their day is going,” says Melissa W., a third-year undergraduate at the University of Saskatchewan. Before-class mingling can help you make friends in class.
  • Take a risk: “Be outgoing and start conversations even if you don’t know someone. The worst that happens is they ignore you,” says Nathan S., a fourth-year undergraduate at Mount Allison University, New Brunswick.

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Joanna Carmona is communications coordinator at the National Patient Safety Foundation. Previously, she was an assistant editor at Student Health 101. She has also edited collegiate textbooks for Cengage Learning and creating language learning materials for the US Department of Defense, libraries, and other educational institutions. Her BA in Spanish is from the University of New Hampshire.