‘Phubbing’ Is A Serious Problem, But We Already Knew That



You know that thing we all tend to do when we’re out with friends or family? We sit down at the restaurant or wherever, pull out our phones, and promptly begin ignoring each other. It’s been a problem since the iPhone was a thing with apps, and the official name for it is “phubbing.”

Why phubbing? Because phone + snubbing = “phubbing.” Makes sense, right?

It’s exactly this “phubbing” that has inspired me and my friends to put our phones on Do Not Disturb mode when we’re together, and that causes me to literally text “brb” to anyone I’m in a long text conversation with when my family and I have dinner. Sometimes, it’s better to turn off. Put the phone away. Fuhgeddaboutit.

And we all knew that long before there was an entire study on “phubbing” and what it could mean for your relationships.

James A. Roberts, a professor at Baylor University Hankamer School of Business recently conducted a study of phubbing, and published his findings in a journal called “Computers in Human Behavior.” The results were that phubbing could not only be ruining your relationships, but could also be causing “hurt feelings” and depression.

Roberts and a partner conducted this study by organizing two separate surverys of over 450 adults in the United States, to learn about the effects of something they call “Pphubbing” or partner phubbing. So, like ignoring your boyfriend/girlfriend in favor of checking Twitter. We already knew that was a big no-no.

But what the study really aimed to show was how much you get distracted by your phone when you’re with an S.O.

“What we found, not surprisingly, when people perceive their partners to be phubbers — they spend more time paying attention to their (phones) — that created conflict in the relationship,” Roberts said.

The survey first asked participants to give a numeric value from 1 (never) to 5 (all the time) to questions about how much their partner uses his/her cell phone. One example given was, “If there is a lull in our conversation, my partner will check his or her cellphone.” Never or always? Somewhere in between?

Then the survey asked the participants to answer a second set of questions based on nine questions, reproduced here for your own self-reflection. Do you do any of these things?

Are You a Phubber?

1. When I am having a meal with others (at home or in a restaurant) I will pull out and
check my cell phone. ? Yes ? No

2. I always have my cell phone in sight when I am spending time with others. ? Yes ? No

3. I often keep my cell phone in my hand when I am with others. ? Yes ? No

4. If my cell phone rings or beeps I will pull it out and check even if I am talking with someone. ? Yes ? No

5. I have been caught glancing at my cell phone when talking to someone. ? Yes ? No

6. When I am hanging with friends I don’t hesitate to check my cell phone if I am bored or get a text, or other notification. ? Yes ? No

7. I will use my cell phone when I am talking with friends. ? Yes ? No

8. I use my cell phone when I am on a date or with my romantic partner. Yes ? No

9. If there is a lull in a conversation, I will diddle with my cell phone. ? Yes ? No

Bonus Question:

I have used my cell phone in bed while my partner was present. ? Yes ? No

Do you phub? How badly do you phub?

The results of the study were unsurprising: 46.3% of the participants were victims of partner phubbing and 22.6% said it caused issues in their relationships. Even momentary phubbing built up and caused issues.

So this study has told us what we already sort of knew: that when we pay more attention to our cell phones than to the people we’re with and have arranged to spend quality time with, they feel rejected and sad. The subliminal message is that we’re more entertained by Instagram or playing games than by their company.

The way to combat the affects of phubbing is to a. stop it, and b. speak up when it’s being done to you.

Your phone should only be used during downtime, or sporadically when we’re with others (like answering an actually important text or phone call), but otherwise, just put it away. You don’t need it. It can wait.

About The Author
Lisa Lo Paro
Lisa is a freelance writer and bibliophile living on the outskirts of New York City. She likes 2 a.m. with a good book, takes cream in her coffee and heavily filters her photos. Check out her blog The Most Happy, her Instagram, and Twitter.