A new study suggests that smart phones can lead to negative relationship outcomes, through an action called "phubbing.”
The results showed some fascinating patterns. First, nearly half of the survey respondents were reportedly snubbed by their partner at one point or another. Almost a quarter of people surveyed said this phubbing was leading to serious problems and conflicts in their relationships. And almost 37 percent of respondents reported that this made them feel sad, neglected, and most importantly, depressed.
While just 32 percent of respondents reported being very happy with their relationship overall, the conduct of some parties created around the use of cell phones had a clear effect on peoples’ overall levels of satisfaction.
Everyday interactions with a significant other are extremely important, though most people reported that they perceived momentary distractions from these interactions as not a big deal. The findings in the study suggest otherwise – the more frequently a couple’s shared time is interrupted by one of the parties checking his or her cell phone instead of caring for the other, the more likely it is that the person being snubbed will feel less satisfied, and thus more depressed.
And it doesn’t have to be a big distraction either. Even as little as a glance toward the screen while a significant other is telling a story or asking a question could create feelings of unimportance and neglect. The doctors recommend valuing the time people spend with their significant others, and not letting cell phones get in the way.
Dr. Roberts elaborated on the findings of the study, explaining that people that had anxious attachment styles, or people with higher insecurity with their relationships, were more upset when their partners instigated cell phone conflict than people who had secure attachment styles.
The study raises interesting questions for cell phone users in the context of a romantic relationship. While the technology has undoubtedly improved communication between couples that aren’t physically together, this study suggests that this benefit is lost or even reversed when smart phones are used during more intimate interactions. Roberts warns couples to be careful about letting cell phones intrude upon quality time, because it could very well lead to increased risk of depression.