Do You Co-Device?

You may well ask what that is.

Two friends in their early twenties pause after sharing a meal and conversation. They hesitate, almost imperceptibly, then look discretely into their laps where they set to work on their smart phones. It’s no secret what they’re doing. They’ve tacitly agreed that this is an acceptable juncture to tend to their devices, respectfully. To be alone together.

Another restaurant, another duo, most likely a couple, sit blandly staring at their screens after having ordered their meal. They have not spoken since they arrived at the restaurant. Their silence seems more one of boredom, possibly it’s sullen, maybe angry. But I don’t know any of these people.

Yet another couple, in their early sixties. I do know them. They talk throughout the day — have a loving relationship. Yet when I come upon them in the early evening, they too are glued to their devices. This is a silence of comfort, habit.

Do you spend time being alone with a friend, partner, spouse, family — and your smart phone, tablet, or other device? (“co-devicing” — if you will). What is the quality of that time spent together? How does it reflect upon your relationship? Are there rules of engagement — when it’s okay and not okay to use your smart phone within your relationship? Are these talked about? Do you ever find yourself having device regret?

An interesting book, Too Much Magic: Pulling the Plug on the Cult of Tech by Jason Benlevi addresses a broad range of issues related to technology and our relationship with it and ourselves. It’s not hard to see where he stands on the issue, but he raises a lot of interesting points. More thoughts to come, as I finish the book.


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Clinical Psychologist practicing in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

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