There I was at a long-awaited dinner with friends Saturday night, when in the midst of our chatting, I watched my right hand sneaking away from my side to grab my phone sitting on the table to check my e-mail.
"What am I doing?" I thought to myself. "I'm here with my friends, and I don't need to be checking e-mail on a Saturday night."
The part that freaked me out was that I hadn't told my hand to reach out for the phone. It seemed to be doing it all on its own. I wondered what was wrong with me until I read a recent study in the journal Personal and Ubiquitous Computing that showed I'm hardly alone. In fact, my problem seems to be ubiquitous.
The authors found smartphone users have developed what they call "checking habits" -- repetitive checks of e-mail and other applications such as Facebook. The checks typically lasted less than 30 seconds and were often done within 10 minutes of each other.