Get off your smartphone. ‘Phubbing’ leads to an unhealthy vicious cycle
Those who are ‘phone snubbed’ often turn to their own smartphones and social media for validation.fitness Updated: Jun 14, 2017 15:47 IST
When you are talking to someone, do you give them your full attention, or do you check your phone every once in a while? It’s tempting to see who retweeted you or what’s going viral, but the effects of phubbing (the practice of ignoring one’s companion in order to pay attention to one’s phone) are not exactly healthy. Turns out, people who are phone snubbed or “phubbed” by others are, themselves, often turning to their smartphones and social media to find acceptance.
Researchers Meredith David and James A. Roberts found that the circle nearly completes itself as the offended parties frequently jump online to find affirmation in the likes and shares and positive comments of social media. The research from the Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business investigated the relationship between phubbing, social media attachment, depression, anxiety and stress.
“When an individual is phubbed, he/she feels socially excluded, which leads to an increased need for attention. Instead of turning to face-to-face interaction to restore a sense of inclusion, study participants turned to social media to regain a sense of belonging,” said lead author David. “Being phubbed was also found to undermine an individual’s psychological well-being. Phubbed individuals reported higher levels of stress and depression.”
“We’re looking online for what we’re not getting offline,” Roberts said. “It’s a vicious cycle.” As part of their research, David and Roberts surveyed more than 330 people across two studies. They found:
Nearly half of those who were phubbed reported spending more than 1.5 hours on their phone every day. In addition, one-quarter of those phubbed reported spending more than 90 minutes per day on social media sites.
More than one-third of phubbed individuals indicated that they turn to social media to interact with new people.
More than half of individuals who said they were phubbed indicated that social media enhances their life and makes their life better. The majority reported that people’s comments on their social media posts make them feel affirmed and more accepted.
“Although the stated purpose of technology like smartphones is to help us connect with others, in this particular instance, it does not,” David said. “Ironically, the very technology that was designed to bring humans closer together has isolated us from these very people.” To counter the negative effects of smartphone use, the researchers advise consumers to establish “smartphone-free” zones and times; establish social contracts (and penalties) regarding phone use with friends, family and co-workers; and downloading apps that track, monitor and control smartphone use.
“All this research into phubbing would be for naught, or only an interesting story, if not for the revelation that this type of behaviour can drive others’ use of social media in an attempt to regain inclusion,” the researchers wrote. “Additionally, such behaviour can also impact the well-being of affected individuals.” The study is published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research.
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