Put a Stop to “Phubbing”: Smartphone Distraction is Destroying Relationships

by Matt Klassen on October 6, 2015

For many of us smartphones have become an inexorable part of our relationships, not only allowing us to instantly connect with our friends and loved ones, through text, voice or video, but even allowing us to create new relationships through social networks, dating and matchmaking services, and other such channels. But as useful as smartphones have become for helping us create relationships, those omnipresent devices are paradoxically just as adept at destroying them as well.

According to a recent study published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour, snubbing one’s partner or ignoring someone in a social setting in favour of looking at your phone is leading to markedly higher levels of depression and is increasingly destroying relationships.

So much so, in fact, that “phubbing,” as it has been called, is leading to increasingly lower levels of reported relationship satisfaction, as partners are growing ever more frustrated with the fact that they’re in a relationship not only with their partner, but with their partner’s phone as well.

“What we discovered was that when someone perceived that their partner phubbed them, this created conflict and led to lower levels of reported relationship satisfaction,” Professor James Roberts explained. 

“These lower levels of relationship satisfaction, in turn, led to lower levels of life satisfaction and, ultimately, higher levels of depression.”

Now that being said, while the survey polled a total of 453 adults in two separate experiments, there was nothing said about the general stability of these relationships, or duration, or anything like that that would point to other salient factors in creating relational stress, but when asked specifically about phubbing, almost a quarter of respondents indicated that smartphone use has caused conflict in the relationship.

“In everyday interactions with significant others, people often assume that momentary distractions by their cell phones are not a big deal,” Assistant Professor Meredith David said.

“However, our findings suggest that the more often a couple’s time spent together is interrupted by one individual attending to his/her cellphone, the less likely it is that the other individual is satisfied in the overall relationship.”

While I would say that this study probably needs to be filed in the blindly-obvious category, the fact of the matter is that smartphones have become extensions of our brains, and, without us really knowing it, have radically altered the ways our brains operate because of it. I mean, most of us would never consider ourselves to be rude or boorish, yet put a phone in our hands in a public place and more often than not social etiquette goes right out the door.

I mean, do we really need to be told that the people closest to us don’t like to be ignored by that infernal flashing, beeping relationship killer? I wouldn’t think so, but of course I’d be wrong. Click here for some questions included in Roberts’ study, and find our if you are guilty of phubbing…and for goodness sake people, put the phone down and start paying attention to the person sitting next to you.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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