Look Up Instead of Phubbing
We’ve all been guilty of "phubbing!" It is a mashup of "phone" and "snub" describing how we pay more attention to smartphones than people. While you might not use the term, we’ve all been on the receiving end. ("Sorry, I just have to check the latest news update." )
Social scientists have been studying phubbing for the past decade. Studies published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Computers in Human Behavior, and The Journal of Social and Personal Relationships reveal the impact of phubbing.
Just holding your phone while having a conversation (not even looking at it) negatively impacts everyone in the group. Scientists found that people rated conversation quality and the feeling of connection as less satisfying. In other words, if you want to make someone feel unimportant, excluded, and ostracized, pull out your phone. And you can imagine how easy it is to fall into relying on your phone when we’re self-quarantining at home!
Phubbing goes beyond social situations and affects family relationships. Two 2017 studies reported that partner phubbing undermined relationships and increased the risk of depression. Our kids aren’t immune either. One UK hospital had to post a sign reminding parents to put down their phones when with their infants in the special care baby unit.
It’s real. It’s annoying. It’s harmful. But it is fixable even when you’re all at home for the time being! Break this intimacy-destroying habit by:
- If you’re working from home, let your colleagues know when you’ll be offline and unreachable by text or phone each day. Let’s face it, you’ll need kid time since few of us can work a full 8-hour day from home without interruptions.
- When you’re eating with your family, make mealtime a no-phone zone. Just concentrate on your family and the food.
- For one hour each day, turn your phone off when you’re with family. Make this a family rule. The timing of the hour is up to you. But for 60 minutes, watch faces, read body language, and be in the moment.
- When you wake up, reach for a glass of water instead of your phone. Not only will your body be grateful, but you can set the tone for your day without social media or work emails doing it for you.
- If you find yourself reaching for the phone, go outdoors to walk around your yard or your block. (Just stay six feet from other people!) If you don’t have a backyard or don’t want to chance walking around the block, just sit on your patio, balcony, or front porch and chill.
Let’s be honest, it’s really difficult to put down the phone when there’s a coronavirus update every time we turn around. But we learned phubbing and we can unlearn it. And in uncertain times, this is something you can control!