How 'Phubbing' ruins relationships
According to researchers, Phubbing negatively affects the way victims feel about their interaction with the other person.
The practice of ignoring someone you're with in a social setting to concentrate on your mobile phone – called "phubbing" – can have a negative effect on relationships by threatening our basic human needs – belonging, self-esteem, meaningful existence and control, a study says.
Phubbing is a portmanteau of 'phone' and 'snubbing' and occurs when conversation is interrupted by attention being given to a smart phone rather than the person you're with. When it's your loved one who bears the brunt of this compulsive action, it's called phubbing – partner phone snubbing.
Unlike other, more well-studied forms of social exclusion, phubbing can take place anywhere and at any time as someone reaches for their phone and ignores their conversation partner, said the researchers.
For the study, published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, psychologists from the University of Kent in Britain studied the effect on individuals of being phubbed in a one-to-one social situation.
The findings showed that increased phubbing significantly and negatively affected the way the victims felt about their interaction with the other person.
Their study involved 153 participants who were asked to view an animation of two people having a conversation and imagine themselves as one of them.
Each participant was assigned to one of three different situations – no phubbing, partial phubbing or extensive phubbing.
The results showed that as the level of phubbing increased, people experienced greater threats to their fundamental needs.
They also perceived the communication quality to be poorer, and the relationship to be less satisfying.
Phubbing affected the need to belong in particular, which explained the overall negative effects on social interaction, the study said.
Of the 46% of people who say they've been "phubbed," 22% say the behaviour has cause strain in their relationship. The act of checking your phone shows your partner that you've checked out of the conversation and that you aren't fully invested in what they have to say, researchers say.
In order to stop this behaviour, try to set aside quality, phone-free time with your partner and maybe even make your bedroom a phone-free zone.
Get out of the habit of mindlessly scrolling social media while you're talking with them and try your best not to have the Pavlovian response to grab your phone when you see a notification.
Julie Hart from The Hart Centre says phubbing may seem easier than focusing on your partner but it's also far less satisfying. "Communicating on your smart phone is quite superficial interaction in comparison to spending time with your partner," she says. "It can also be a way for some people to avoid confrontation or to deal with the difficulties of life or issues in a relationship."
Phubbing seriously undermines the quality of your relationship by sending a strong, implicit message to your partner that he or she is not as important to you as your phone or the people you're communicating with on it.
"It suggests that there is never a time that you will put him or her ahead of everything else," Julie says.
"It implies that 'you're not really that important to me, I will never put you first over other things and that there will never be a time when I choose you over my phone'."
Julie says the 'phubee' needs to broach the issue with their partner before it gets completely out of hand. "Have a talk with your partner and tell them this is actually a thing - there's a name for it now and that phubbing does impact relationship satisfaction," she says. "And tell them that while the occasional disruption doesn't matter, it's this constant attention being taken away from spending any quality time that does matter and it's making you unhappy."
She suggests making the bedroom a completely phone-free environment and, if you have a family, to also ensure dinner time and time in the car is phone-free as well to increase opportunities for bonding and conversation.