Go ahead and stare at your smartphone during live events. You’ll enjoy them more, says NYU study

Attend an event. Pick up your smartphone. Stare at it. Yep, that’s the advice of surprising research out of Rutgers University and New York University.

Researchers carried out nine studies tracking social media use during an array of events such as the Super Bowl half-time show, holiday parties, bus tours, virtual safaris, a dance performance, and a horror film. The findings suggest that the common advice to put your damn phone down is misguided: Participants who created social media content during events consistently felt more immersed and engaged in their experiences, and enjoyed positive experiences even more.

Take note: Misery-tweeting your way through a crappy event is also a solid strategy. Participants who posted about their suffering also perceived time as passing more quickly.

These findings are not news to journalist types, who can thoroughly enjoy the events we’re filming or frantically typing about. The key, says coauthor Alixandra Barasch, an assistant professor of marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business, is to create content that is directly about the unfolding experience—which is not the same as tuning out your surroundings to reply to your bestie’s post about her cat.


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