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More public spaces should block phone signals

By Mal Fletcher - posted Friday, 5 August 2016

The thing about phones today is that they're not just phones, are they? They're sophisticated computers that open up all kinds of opportunities for entertainment, collaboration and innovation.

However, research is showing that they can also be doorways into a world of distraction.

In Britain, a debate has opened up as to whether or not we would benefit if some public spaces actually blocked signals from smartphones and the internet.


The owners of at least one British pub have done just that, recognising the impact of digital gadgets on human interaction.

A new bar in East Sussex is stopping phone signals in an effort to prevent people being distracted by their mobiles. The Gin Tub in Hove has installed a copper Faraday cage in the ceiling, which deflects signals.

While it's illegal in the UK to jam phone and internet signals from transmitting from their source, it's permissible to block them from entering one's own home or establishment.

Steve Tyler, one of the owners of the Gin Tub, says he's done it so that people will enjoy themselves more.

Not too long ago, 20 percent of British divorce cases were citing Facebook as a contributing factor in marriage breakdown. People often invest more time and energy in remote relationships via technology than they do in contact with their partners.

This is problem is now recognised by psychologists as "absent presence". It affects all types of human tribes.


You may have six people gathered around a table at home, in a restaurant or at work, but only half of them are actually joining in the conversation; others are engaged in cyberspace through their phones.

Conversely, while this problem is growing, leading high-tech companies are looking for ways to form innovation hubs – physical communities that promote and support innovation.

These companies – among them some of Europe's major game-design outfits – recognise that a growing drive for high-tech also brings with it a greater need for high-touch.

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About the Author

Mal Fletcher is a media social futurist and commentator, keynote speaker, author, business leadership consultant and broadcaster currently based in London. He holds joint Australian and British citizenship.

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