You know the scenario, you are with your friend or significant other a muffled beep or gentle vibration and your conversation partner suddenly vanishes. Gone to the world of the smart phone. You wait politely for them to return, what ever it is must be important? Definitely more important than what you were discussing? Whether it is a few seconds or a few minutes, studies show that this interruption can cause harmful effects to relationships.
Smart phones allow us to communicate with others, play games, take pictures, navigate, be entertained, work from remote locations and access information about just about anything, from just about anywhere. The down side to this is it provides instant access from anyone, to our time and focus. We feel the responsibility to instantly respond to our technology, or just don’t want to be out of touch with the up to the minute happenings in our social circle.
The term phubbing is to be snubbed by someone using their smart phone when in your company. A phubb is an interruption to attend the phone, be it to take a call, respond to a text, make a post, or any other activity you can do with your smart phone. When one person phubbs another , feelings of rejection and being ignored occur. In a 2014 study, 70% of the females felt that smart phones interfered with their romantic relationships. What is the response to being phubbed? You have seen it at the last restaurant you went to. One person takes a phone call or answers a text and the other person, feeling rejected also takes out their phone, being excluded from the present conversation they look for another interaction (often social media) to take the sting out of being excluded. An individual who is often phubbed by family and friends may spend less time with face to face interaction (to limit the feeling of exclusion) and turn to social media to receive attention and feel included. Researchers have found that social media can affect your brain the same way a hug does; a “like”, posting a picture or comment can cause a rush of dopamine. Individuals who are phubbed also have greater feelings of depression and lower overall well-being.
Many people do not realize how often they phubb people they are with or realize the harmful effects this behaviour can cause; from kids acting out to gain their parents attention to a spouse’s feelings of exclusion. As smart phones are an increasingly present in our lives, we need to recognize the importance being there with our family and friends not just being there.