YES FROM EXPERTS IN THE FIELD
NO FROM EXPERTS IN THE FIELD
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WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Are smartphones having
a negative impact on our
James A. Roberts
is the Ben H.
of Marketing at
and author of Too
Much of a Good
Thing: Are You
Addicted to Your
2015; not available
Jayson L. Dibble,
Ph.D., is an associate professor in
at Hope College,
FOR A ROMANTIC relationship (this includes married couples) to flourish, each
partner must be present for the other. To be perceived as present for another, a
person must be free from external distractions. Ho w can you be present for your
romantic partner when your nose is buried in your smartphone?
Do you check your smartphone every five minutes? If you do, you are about
average. The typical American checks his or her phone approximately ;;;
times every day.
My colleague Meredith David and I popularized the term “phubbing” (phone
snubbing) to describe why smartphone use in the presence of a romantic partner
can be ruinous to this most prized and personal relationship. We conducted a
large online survey of adults in the U.S. who were currently in romantic relationships to see how phubbing their partners affected their relationships.
Our respondents told us that partner phubbing was common: ;; percent
reported being phubbed by their love interest. Getting phubbed led to lower
levels of relationship satisfaction. The more they were phubbed by their partner,
the less satisfied they were with their relationship. Here’s how it works. When
people were being phubbed, they reported higher levels of smartphone-related
conflict. People don’t like playing second fiddle to their partner’s smartphone.
But we didn’t stop there. We also found that all those phubbed individuals
who reported lower levels of satisfaction with their partners were also more
likely to report being anxious and depressed. Unhappy in love, unhappy in life.
Research has found that looking at your smartphone while holding a conversation can undermine a sense of emotional connection. It’s all in the eyes.
Looking at your smartphone while in conversation with your romantic partner
reduces the amount of eye contact you have with your significant other. Gazing
lovingly into your partner’s eyes is a good way to seal the deal.
We need to feel that our partner is present for there to be a real connection.
We all just want to be loved. Is that so wrong? Our smartphones aren’t helping. C
TECHNOLOGY HAS ALWAYS moved faster than our norms for etiquette.
Inventions that today we take for granted—telephones, radio, television—were
once scorned for the disruptions they caused. In time, however, our fundamental need to relate to others drove us to reshape norms that balanced the
benefits of the new technology.
Enter the smartphone. Sure, I’ve often seen a family sitting together at
a restaurant, each person’s eyes glued to his or her screen. I get it. However,
smartphones themselves aren’t the problem. Rather, we’re sitting in the usual
gap between the emergence of a new technology and the lagging development
of new rules and etiquettes for interaction.
People adjusted to their telephones, radio and television, and we will
Besides, smartphones offer advantages, many of which actually enhance
closeness. Texting, emoji (the little icons inside text messages that help convey emotion) and videoconference apps like Face Time let us say “I love you”
when calling isn’t enough, and many smartphones let us see each other while
we talk—invaluable for military spouses and others separated by distance.
When it comes to relationships, there is no such thing as autopilot. Blaming
smartphones (or any technology) distracts from the continual work we should
be doing to maintain our bonds and train our children. Romantic partners
should discuss openly the role of phones in their relationship (e.g., designating
a few phone-free hours each night), parents should set rules and examples
for their children, and a group of friends having lunch can pool their phones
on the table—the first to grab their phone pays the tab!
None of this requires condemning smartphones. Stay responsible for your
relationships and learn to use your phone in healthy ways. C
JUNE DEBATE RESULTS
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