We all know that our phones can have a powerful pull on our attention. In many face-to-face conversations or meetings, the person talking is competing with someone else’s phone. Jeanine Turner, associate professor in Georgetown's Communication, Culture, and Technology program, has developed a framework for regulating our social presence in a smartphone world. This practical approach is based on an acceptance of the constant presence of our phone and an understanding of how hard it is to put it down. She defines four types of presence–budgeted, entitled, competitive and invitational–and describes the goals, benefits, and costs of each.

This discussion begins with a short test to see how well you are able to retain information when your attention is split between a conversation in person and another via text. It’s something many of us do all the time, but rarely are we aware of how it’s affecting us.

How well did you do on the test? How do you approach the use of phones while having a conversation? What do you think about Professor Turner's recommendations? Answers these questions and more on Vialogues.

Excerpts from the discussion

@01:50 Sara Hardman: One thing that has been incredibly helpful in becoming more mindful of my own phone habits lately has been the new Screentime feature on my iPhone. It keeps track of how much time each day I spend on my phone and how that time is distributed via different apps. It also keeps track of how many times I pick up my phone throughout the day. Let's just say the numbers are always shocking, but I think it at least makes me more aware of mindless scrolling.

@02:17 Melanie Hering: I do appreciate all the options she gives; she recognizes that there is a time and place for phones and the multitude of notifications that come along with their ownership, and a time and a place for them to be stored away.