Phone snubbing or being on your phone while spending time with friends or family can be bad for relationships. Adarsh explores the topic in detail.

Phubbing: (noun) the practice of ignoring one’s companion(s) in order to pay attention to one’s phone or some other mobile device.

In simple words, ‘phubbing’, a port manteau of ‘phone snubbing’, is when people cut off conversations with others in their vicinity to talk or text on their phone instead. If two people are doing it to each other, it is referred to as ‘double-phubbing’.

What Studies say about Phubbing

There have been some recent studies around phubbing that have shown some alarming results though, in retrospect it might not seem very surprising. Apparently, phubbing is one of the main reasons for dissatisfaction in marriages and relationships these days.

Another study revealed that phubbing leads to lack of trust and feeling left out while there has been yet another study that showed that people who phub people around them regularly are more likely to get phubbed themselves.

In a study called ‘Computers in Human Behaviour’, Suat Kiliçarslan and Izzet Parmaksiz , two Turkish psychologists at Nigde Ömer Halisdemir University, sent questionnaires to 712 married couples with an average age of 37.

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The researchers found that couples who reported more phubbing in their home also reported less satisfaction in their marriage. They revealed that their findings make sense logically. People tend not to respond well when ignored. They did not discuss the possibility that less-satisfied partners might be more inclined to phub their spouse.

But they also did note that the problem is easily fixed: married couples can try turning off their phones more often.

The Mental Implications of Phubbing

Phubbing can have a massive impact on one’s mental health. It has been revealed that phubbing threatens the four fundamental needs of human beings which are:

  • Belongingness
  • Self esteem
  • Meaningful existence
  • Control

Phubbing makes phubbed people feel excluded and ostracized. This is particularly harmful because phubbing happens all the time.
Two separate recent studies found that when spouses phub each other, they’re more likely to experience depression and lower marital satisfaction. It sends out the message that your partner is prioritizing something else over you in those moments of togetherness.

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This is also because of the contrasting equation that people have with their phones. Sociologists have noted that some people feel less lonely because they are always ‘connected’. Others meanwhile feel more isolated because they never seem to connect with anyone in a direct way.

Are You a Phubber?

Considering the number of screens around us all the time, it is impossible to determine if we are phubbing. Moreover, a lot of our jobs involve being constantly on the phone or looking into screens which is another reason why we could be a phubber without realizing it.

Here are a few ways to decide if you are phubbing:

  • You always seem to be carrying out two conversations at once, one in person and the other on your phone.
  • You immediately bring your phone out at dinner or other social settings. If your phone screen is not visible to you, you are worried that you might miss out on an important phone call or text.
  • You always experience fomo (the fear of missing out) without your phone.

If this is true, it’s a very real sign you’re phubbing.

How to deal with Phubbing

Once you are aware that you or someone around you is phubbing, it becomes easier to deal with it. You can stop phubbing but that depends completely on how badly you want to stop. A lot of people love being on their phone and to them it won’t seem like an issue when it’s pointed out that they are snubbing people with their phones.

The main thing to do is to consciously limit your screen time. Set a target for yourself and keep track of the time you are spending. Make note of the apps that you seem to be wasting most time on and either limit their usage or delete them altogether.

When it comes to choosing between your phone and your partner, set some ground rules. Decide how much time you would spend on your phone and when. You could even decide on places where the phone is a complete no-no, for instance the dinner table or the bedroom.

Another thing you can do is narrate why you need to be on your phone. For instance, if you are out for dinner with your partner and there is an urgent need to send a text or respond to a phone call, explain why it needs to be done immediately and wind up as soon as possible.

If you feel your partner is phubbing you, communicate your feelings. Expressing how you feel about the matter is the best way to resolve such issues.

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The Last Word

Like it or not, smartphones are not going anywhere and with each passing year they are going to be vying more and more for our attention. What we can do is be the ones in control and limit the usage.

Because if we don’t watch out, phubbing can cost us a lot more than we bargained for!

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Adarsh hates personal bios, Chelsea football club and Oxford commas. When he's not writing, he's busy playing FIFA on his PlayStation.

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