Is Phubbing Putting Your Relationships at Risk?

Premier Health Now

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As families gather for the holidays, there’s a growing source of tension among generations: phubbing. 

Coined in Australia in 2012 as shorthand for “phone snubbing,” phubbing occurs when you give your smartphone more attention than the people you’re with. 

Parents and grandparents want connection and feel deprived when grandchildren focus on their phones. Yet, many younger people have a compulsion to connect through social media because of FOMO — fear of missing out. 

Premier Health Now asked neuropsychologist Fadi Tayim, PhD, how families can cope better. “There’s a generational gap and family time suffers,” says Dr. Tayim of the Premier Health Clinical Neuroscience Institute.

Phubbing has far-reaching effects. A recent CNN article notes the potential harm to romantic relationships, as well. CNN’s survey found that smartphones can be a relationship stressor, on a level with money, sex and kids.
Dr. Tayim comments, “Communication is the foundation of a strong, intimate relationship. As a technologically advanced society, we are running the risk of forgetting how to talk to each other.” 

He says from a neurological standpoint, the human brain is not built to multi-task. “Having a hand-held universe in our palms makes a desire to be in the moment a lot more challenging for people.”

Cell phones aren’t going away, so what can we do? Dr. Tayim suggests ways to create a phone/life balance:

  • Compromise: Develop a strategy together rather than dictating what one person should do. If you’re the one being phubbed, express how it makes you feel but don’t be accusatory.
  • Set boundaries: Create phone-free time each day. Agree to use smartphones and electronics for set times and then put them away.
  • Create good habits: Start early, in a relationship or with children, such as no phones during dinner.
  • Do self checks: Be aware when and why you check your phone. Try finding another option for boredom or discomfort.

It's easy to get the care you need.

See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.