Smartphones have become a constant companion for many of us. Do you often feel neglected when your partner is on their phone? Does your time spent together get disrupted by texts, emails, or games?
Whether at the supermarket or in the doctor’s clinic or in bed at night time, it can be tempting to pick up the device and start scrolling through it over social media or text messages at any moment of time. But anyone who has done so in the presence of a close friend, family member or romantic partner may have left that person feeling ignored, annoyed or even pushed away.
When a conversation, meal, or romantic moment is disrupted because of any notification be it text, email or any other task the message we convey to our partner is “What I’m doing on my phone is more important than you right now” or “I’m more interested in my phone rather than you” or in some cases we convey to our partner that “you are not worthy of my attention”.
What is it so special about smartphones?
When your partner attends to a smartphone instead of talking to you, it feels like rejection it actually hurts a lot. Feeling ignored when your partner is on their phone can feel as bad as being avoided.
It did not matter much how much time a person spends on their device, but how much a person needed their device or how much a person is addicted to their device will matter more. People who were more dependent on their smartphones or more addicted to the smartphone reported being less certain about their relationship. People who felt that their partners were overly dependent on their devices said they were less satisfied in their relationship.
In other words, people are jealous of their partner’s constant use of the smartphone. It is not the use; it’s the psychological relationship that we share with our smartphones.
Plenty of research has been done on how cell phones affect our relationships. Some suggest that it has a positive influence as we are in touch easily with our partner through calling and texting which makes people happier and even more secure in their relationships. Other research reveals the dark side of cell phones. Real-life interactions are reduced to minimal when a person feels the urge to check their phone, and the distraction that the phone causes to n]one partner doesn’t make the other person feel good.
In a new review paper, forthcoming in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, University of Arizona psychology professor David Sbarra and his collaborators at Wayne State University in Detroit examine existing research on technoference. They propose an explanation for why humans are so much drawn to their smartphones, even when the devices take us out of the moment in our close relationships. It is because of our evolutionary history, they say.