Phubbing may sound like a playful word, but it has the power to ruin relationships and make you less happy. What is it? It’s a mashup of the word “phone” and “snubbing.” And chances are high that you’ve either phubbed someone or have been phubbed yourself.
Snubbing someone by diverting your attention toward your smart phone has become an everyday activity. And according to TIME, it’s not only annoying, it’s harmful. And it’s not surprising how. Think back to how you felt the last time the person you were with wasn’t enough to keep you from scrolling through social media while you were supposed to be engaging with them instead of your device. Did it make you feel empty? If so, you’re not alone.
“Ironically, phubbing is meant to connect you, presumably, with someone through social media or texting,” Emma Seppälä, a psychologist at Stanford and Yale universities and author of the Happiness Track, told TIME. “But it actually can severely disrupt your present-moment, in-person relationships.”
A paper just published (March 25) in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology found that even faux phubbing resulted in negative feelings on the part of the person who felt phubbed.
According to the study:
Participants viewed a three‐minute animation in which they imagined themselves as part of a dyadic conversation. Their communication partner either phubbed them extensively, partially, or not at all. Results revealed that increased phubbing significantly and negatively affected perceived communication quality and relationship satisfaction.
Phubbing was found to threaten four “fundamental needs” — belongingness, self-esteem, meaningful existence and control — by making phubbed people feel excluded and ostracized, says TIME.
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An earlier study found that smartphone use undermines enjoyment of face-to-face social interactions, like eating dinner. The study found that when phones were present (vs. absent), participants felt more distracted, which reduced how much they enjoyed spending time with their friends/family. And that during in-person interactions, participants felt more distracted and reported lower enjoyment if they used their phones than if they did not.
This research suggests that despite their ability to connect us to others across the globe, phones may undermine the benefits we derive from interacting with those across the table.