'Technoference' -- seemingly small, everyday interruptions that come with smartphones and other devices -- can hurt romantic relationships, a new study has found. A study involving 143 women in committed relationships found that 74% of them think that cellphones detract from their interactions with their spouse or partner.
Researchers found this 'technoference' -- even if infrequent -- sets off a chain of negative events: more conflict about technology, lower relationship quality, lower life satisfaction and higher risk of depression.
"This is likely a circular process that people become trapped in where allowing technology to interfere, even in small ways, in one's relationship at least sometimes causes conflict, which can begin to slowly erode the quality of their relationship," said Brandon T McDaniel of The Pennsylvania State University.
"Over time, individuals feel less satisfied with their relationship as well as with the way their life is currently going. They may not even realise this is happening," McDaniel said. At that point, some may start using technology to escape their bad feelings. That leads to the possibility of more technoference, continuing the cycle.
Study participants reported many types of technoference happening at least daily. Sixty-two per cent said technology interferes with their free time together while 35% said their partner will pull out the phone mid-conversation if they receive a notification.
Around 25% said their partner will actively text other people during the couple's face-to-face conversations. "When you are having one-on-one time with your partner, let's say we're going out to dinner, we should be focusing on each other," said Sarah Coyne of Brigham Young University. "But if I'm on my device, or he is on his device, that really interferes with the precious couple time that we have," Coyne said.
The study was published in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture.