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Stop Phubbing and Improve Your Relationship With Your Loved One

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What is Phubbing?

Phubbing is a term coined as part of a campaign by Macquarie Dictionary to describe the habit of snubbing someone in favor of a mobile phone. In May 2012, the advertising agency behind the campaign, McCann, had invited a number of people to coin a term to describe the behaviour.

Phubbing may seem like a relatively harmless, if annoying, part of our everyday life, but research is finding that it may be hurting your relationships. “Ironically, phubbing is meant to connect you, presumably, with someone through social media or texting,” says Emma Seppälä, a psychologist at Stanford and Yale universities and author of the Happiness Track. “But it actually can severely disrupt your present-moment, in-person relationships.”

Whether you mean to do it or not, you’re “phubbing”, pretty much everyone does it at one time or another. With more than three quarters of us now owning a smartphone in the U.S., phubbing is a common occurrence, You might even be phubbing someone right now as you read this!

What’s phubbing? Phubbing is snubbing someone you are talking to while looking at your phone. This word may be new to you, but you know it has happened to you and you know you have done it to others.

Smartphones serve as our personal assistants, matchmakers and even shopping aides. But as our phones are getting smarter and keeping us more “connected” to the world around us, while they do that could they be ruining our personal connections with others?

Research has shown that phubbing can affect our relationships with our loved ones. Two separate studies found that when spouses phub each other, they’re more likely to experience lower marital satisfaction and depression.

What is Phubbing

The Downside of Smartphones

Might as well face it, you’re addicted to your phone, we all are. With their mood- and mind-altering capabilities, smartphones can be as addictive as gambling or more so.

Adeola Adelayo, MD, a psychiatrist with Banner Behavioral Health Hospital, says research has shown this kind of behavior can have a detrimental effect on you and those around you. “When other people use their phones, we begin to feel the need to do the same. There’s this fear of missing out that takes place,” Adelayo said.

You feel less connected. Several studies have shown that phubbing makes face-to-face interactions less meaningful. If you are missing important yet subtle nonverbal cues from your friends, children or significant other, you may be missing key parts of the conversation. And vice versa, with your head in your phone, they will feel less connected to you.

It’s just not good for anyone’s health. Research has shown phubbing threatens four fundamental needs: self-esteem, control, belongingness, and  meaningful existence. This affects not only you but those around you.

Strategies to Keep Your Smartphone Use in Check

1. Use an App to Monitor Time.

This can work for your kids and for yourself or your Significant other as well. There are boatloads of apps that can help monitor everything from overall screen time usage, social media usage – even time limits you can set for yourself and children.


2. Establish Phone Rules.

Establish rules in your home that there will be no phone usage during certain times (i.e., dinnertime, after 9 p.m., or before 9 a.m.).

“This gives your family time to reconnect about your day or discuss your plans for the given day. You’ll be able to better connect with your spouse and children,” Dr. Adelayo said.

3. Make Bedrooms Tech-Free.

This may be a hard one for some, so you can start with keeping your phone across the room from your bed – “out of sight, out of mind and safely out of reach,” Dr. Adelayo said. She suggests purchasing an old school alarm clock, so you don’t need your phone by your bed to wake you up.

“Keeping your room tech-free signals to your brain that this is a place to rest and relax your mind and body. Your quality of rest will benefit greatly,” she said.

4. Stop Phubbing your friends-Pocket Your Phone While Out with Friends.

You may be tempted to play with your phone while out with friends but shutting it off or placing it on do not disturb can signal to your friends that you value their time and conversation. Have a babysitter at home? Most phones have a setting so that any calls or texts can come through from him/her, but otherwise you’ll be left unencumbered.

A study found that people who used their phones while eating out with friends or family said they enjoyed their meal less and felt more distracted and less engaged than those who didn’t use tech at the table.

Is checking your Instagram, Facebook or a text message really worth losing a friend over?

Phubbing with friends

5.  Seek Help

If you feel like you’re having a hard time not using your phone constantly, seek help. As mentioned in this article, addiction is real. If you feel you don’t have control, talk to a therapist who specializes in addiction counseling.

We often look to our phones to help us resolve the tensions of our love lives: they promise us distraction, new friends and glorious escape. We can forgive ourselves our deep attachment to them – while nevertheless being a bit sceptical as to their ultimate effects on our chances of forming good relationships.

If you’re a chronic phubber, creating and following strict technology rules, such as putting your phone away while eating, can help you form better habits.



You can read more on this and other subjects on our blog, here:

“It would be most of our first choices to have relationships in the real world; but for many of us, it is a great deal more plausible to pursue them with, and via, our phones. Phones provide exemplary compensation for the frustrations of living with actual people. Unlike them, they are always responsive to the touch and their malleability provides the perfect excuse for disengagement from the trickier aspects of true connections.”

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Produced in collaboration with:
Natalia Biegaj

#TheSchoolOfLife #Relationships #Technology