Phubbing: What Is It, Effects on Relationships, and How to Stop (2022)

Phubbing: What Is It, Effects on Relationships, and How to Stop (1)Share on Pinterest

What is phubbing?

Phubbing is the act of snubbing someone you’re talking with in person in favor of your phone. Quite simply, it’s phone snubbing.

Phubbing was first coined as a term in May 2012. An Australian advertising agency created this word to describe the growing phenomenon of people ignoring their friends and family who were right in front of them and instead scrolling through their phones. Soon after, the Stop Phubbing campaign was launched.

While the word might not be in your daily vocabulary, the action likely is. One study found that more than 17 percent of people phub others at least four times a day. Almost 32 percent of people report being phubbed two to three times a day.

While the behavior might not seem like a big deal, research suggests phubbing may be hurting your relationships and your own mental health. Read on to learn more.

How does phubbing affect relationships?

(Video) Phubbing: What is it and how it's impacting daily life

Phubbing interrupts your ability to be present and engage with people around you. Today, more than three-quarters of Americans own a smartphone, so the phubbing problem may be getting worse.

One study found that texting during a face-to-face conversation made the experience less satisfying for everyone involved, even the guilty phubber.

Phubbing and smartphone use also can have an impact on marriages. One study found that phubbing decreases marital satisfaction. Conflicts over phone use were the driving force of these issues. Another study found that spouses who phub each other experience higher rates of depression.

The effect of phubbing may be worse on people who find themselves at the receiving end of the snubbing. A study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology found that people who viewed simulated snubbing felt more negatively about the interaction when they were told to imagine being the person phubbed than when they were not asked that.

What’s the driving force behind those feelings? Phubbing is a threat to four “fundamental needs,” the study found. Those core needs are:

  • belongingness
  • self-esteem
  • meaningful existence
  • control

When someone phubs you, you may feel rejected, excluded, and not important. That can have a significant impact on your mental health.

Research also shows that people who are phubbed are more likely to reach for their phones and try to engage with their social media network in order to fill that void. This is the start of a vicious cycle.

Plus, diving into social media may actually make the problem worse. Social media may have a negative impact on your mental health, according to research published in Computers and Human Behavior. The study found that social media can make feelings of depression worse, and the more you use social media, the more likely you are to feel depression or anxiety.

(Video) Simon Sinek: Cell phones are DESTROYING the Relationships

The number one sign that you are guilty of phubbing is in your hand — your phone. If your phone is with you at all times because you’re afraid you’ll miss a call, a tweet, or a status update, you are likely guilty of phubbing.

Here are three signs you may be a phubber:

  1. You carry on two conversations at once, on your phone and in person. You’re likely doing neither very successfully, and you’re most certainly phubbing.
  2. You immediately bring your phone out at dinner or other social settings. Putting your phone beside your plate “just in case” is a warning sign that you’ll soon be phubbing. Plus, you don’t even have to touch your phone during a conversation for it to negatively impact your relationship. One study found that just the presence of the phone made people feel less connected.
  3. You can’t get through a meal without checking your phone. The fear of missing out is real — a real sign you’re phubbing.

If the idea of giving up social media makes you nervous and a little sick to your stomach, you’re not alone. In fact, one study found that the urge to check social media is stronger than the urge for sex. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t learn other ways to check in with social media without scrolling endlessly.

1. Make meals a no-phone zone

When it’s time to eat, no matter where you are, put the phone away. If a distant buzz of notifications will be too much of a distraction, turn your phone to the “do not disturb” mode, too.

Give yourself each meal to engage with the people in front of you and have a sincere conversation. It may feel forced at first, but soon you will feel more comfortable with having a face-to-face conversation.

(Video) What is phubbing and why you should stop this asap

2. Leave your phone behind

You might feel as if you’ve lost a limb, but don’t be afraid to simply put your phone in your car, desk drawer, or bag — and leave it there. Whatever alerts or updates happen, they’ll be waiting for you later.

3. Challenge yourself

Everyone enjoys a little prize now and then. Make ignoring your phone a challenge. Keep track of the meals or hours you go without your phone in hand. When you’ve completed a goal, treat yourself, and then challenge yourself again.

If you’re trying to help a loved one stop phubbing, here are three steps to get you started:

1. Model a better behavior

If you want to silently encourage the chronic phubber to stop, be a good example. Put your phone away when you’re lounging on the couch. Don’t encourage them to show you something on their phone during a date. Focus on the other people at the table. Slowly but surely, they’ll get the hint.

2. Call them out

There’s nothing like hard love. If someone you regularly interact with has a habit of phubbing, tell them. The Stop Phubbing campaign will email your loved one a note about their behavior if a face-to-face conversation is too difficult or uncomfortable for you.

Either way, tell them you don’t like it, and then help them develop better habits.

3. Be sympathetic

Phubbing isn’t a real addiction, but it is an impulse problem. Impulses and learned behaviors take some time to break, so be patient and understanding, but be firm, too. These 13 books can help you learn more way to change habits.

Checking your phone again and again can become an impulse you can’t control. If you have a hard time stopping the cycle, you may want to speak with a therapist or psychologist. They can help you learn to redirect your energy.

They can also help you discover why you may have developed this impulse in the first place. For many people, social media begins as an escape, or a way to zone out at the end of the day. Soon, however, it may become a problem.

Social media may lead to worsening symptoms of depression and low self-esteem. A therapist can help you understand these issues and work to improve your response to them so that you don’t feel as dependent on your phone and the world inside your social media apps.

(Video) What Is Your Phone Doing to Your Relationships?

You don’t have to stop using your phone to prevent phubbing. You just have to be more aware. Being mindful of your actions when you’re around other people is a great place to start.

You can also ask friends for accountability. If they feel like you’re zoning into your phone, they should feel free to call your attention to it.

Phubbing is a learned behavior — after all, it’s only recently become a problem — and you can unlearn it. It will take time and some work, but your mental health and your relationships will thank you for it.

(Video) Phubbing or ignoring someone in favour of your phone & its impact on mental health

FAQs

Why phubbing is killing your relationship? ›

While the term seems cutesy, phubbing is basically relationship napalm. One recent study found that the behavior actually facilitates relationship dissatisfaction on an almost subconscious level by creating emotional distance between romantic partners.

Is phubbing ruining your relationship? ›

Phubbing, or phone snubbing, involves ignoring someone in favor of paying attention to your phone. Though it's a common habit, experts caution it can ruin your in-person relationships. Research has shown phubbing can lead to marital dissatisfaction and emotional distance.

What is phubbing behavior? ›

“Phubbing refers to adverse behavior that occurs in social situations when individuals maintain their focus on their mobile phones at the expense of a reduced focus on the interlocutor who may feel ignored or snubbed” (p. 7).

How do cell phones affect relationships? ›

We feel unheard, disrespected, disregarded. A set of studies actually showed that just having a phone out and present during a conversation (say, on the table between you) interferes with your sense of connection to the other person, the feelings of closeness experienced, and the quality of the conversation.

How does phubbing make you feel? ›

According to their study of 145 adults, phubbing decreases marital satisfaction, in part because it leads to conflict over phone use. The scientists found that phubbing, by lowering marital satisfaction, affected a partner's depression and satisfaction with life.

How do you stop interfering in a relationship? ›

11 Ways to Deal With People Who Meddle in Your Life
  1. Try to see if they mean well. ...
  2. Draw clear boundaries. ...
  3. Don't take it personally. ...
  4. Ignore them. ...
  5. Don't share private things with them. ...
  6. Retort with polite comebacks. ...
  7. React with kindness. ...
  8. Minimize your time with them.

How cell phones affect family relationships? ›

Using a cell phone for work purposes during family time can increase distress and strain on a family. While using their cell phones, parents talk to their kids less, respond more slowly, and overreact to being interrupted.

How do I stop using my phone? ›

Others say the only way to beat an addiction is to quit cold turkey and go device-free.
...
But for those wishing to find a DIY approach, here are three practices you might find effective.
  1. Make time for scrolling. ...
  2. Turn off your notifications. ...
  3. Physically separate yourself.
7 Oct 2021

How can I have a healthy relationship with my phone? ›

how to have a healthy relationship with your phone
  1. ban phones in your room at night. ...
  2. switch to grayscale. ...
  3. phone free days. ...
  4. put time restrictions on your phone for down time. ...
  5. turn off non-critical notifications. ...
  6. spring clean your social media. ...
  7. download apps to help you. ...
  8. learn a new skill that will replace the urge to scroll.
27 Nov 2020

What is partner phubbing? ›

The term phubbing (a portmanteau of 'phone' and 'snubbing') refers to the act of focusing on one's mobile phone during a conversation instead of paying attention to a conversation partner (Ugur & Koc, 2015). If this act occurs within relationships, it is called partner-phubbing (pphubbing; Roberts & David, 2016).

How do I get my boyfriend to pay attention to me and not his phone? ›

How To Get More Attention Than His Phone
  1. Tease him. ...
  2. Level with him. ...
  3. Make some weekend plans in a remote locale. ...
  4. Give him a dose of his own medicine. ...
  5. Enchant him. ...
  6. Leave him alone with his phone.
24 Aug 2015

How do you tell someone they are on their phone too much? ›

For example, say, "I'm really into my phone, too. I just think it is so easy to overuse the phone." Tell them that their phone is really cool. Say "John, your phone really is awesome.
...
Pick the right moment.
  1. Initiate the conversation when you are together. ...
  2. Consider a quiet moment when you have some time to talk.

What is an example of phubbing? ›

Examples of phubbing include last night when you mindlessly scrolled through Instagram during dinner instead of asking your S.O. about their day, that time your dad answered emails in the corner instead of interacting with the family on Thanksgiving, and all those instances in which your little nephew made it clear he ...

How does phubbing affect teens? ›

“Phubbing can make a child feel inadequate, lonely, rejected, and dismissed. Researchers have found that children become anxious or depressed when ignored. He or she may think they are insignificant.” Often, kids act out to get the attention they are craving.

How does screen time affect relationships? ›

Screen Time and Relationships

A study published in Computers in Human Behavior found that it creates conflict and decreases a partner's levels of reported relationship satisfaction. This sharp increase in screen time doesn't just limit the quantity of our real-life interactions. It can also disrupt the quality.

Is your phone love hurting your relationship? ›

Pphubbing refers to “partner phone snubbing,” or when you get distracted by your cell phone when you're with your significant other. A new study from Baylor University found that Pphubbing hurts relationship satisfaction, thus also negatively impacting overall happiness.

Is phubbing an addiction? ›

In the majority of studies on phubbing behavior, among the leading predictors of this behavior are addictive tendencies, and perhaps most importantly, addiction to social media (Franchina et al., 2018; Błachnio & Przepiórka, 2019; Nazir & Bulut, 2019; Balta et al., 2020).

Is phubbing disrespectful? ›

Phubbing tends to be rude and inconsiderate behavior. It conveys that the person on the other end of the phone is more important than the person you're talking to.

Why are people always on their phone? ›

There are many reasons why people spend so much time on their phones, the most obvious reasons seem to be addiction, boredom, laziness and a desire for attention. While all these factors matter, it seems like real human interactions would often be a better approach.

How do you deal with interfering people? ›

Find an appropriate environment to have a face-to-face conversation with an interfering person. Use statements that clarify your feelings, such as, "When you do this, it make me feel this way." Declare whatever behavior feels unacceptable to you and why, specifying exactly how you expect to be treated.

What do you do if someone is trying to ruin your relationship? ›

5 Clever Ways To Deal With The Jerk Trying To Ruin Your...
  1. Evaluate yourself. ...
  2. Confront the culprit head-on. ...
  3. Use communication as a sidekick. ...
  4. Recognize the real issue. ...
  5. Move on.
9 Nov 2019

How do phones affect people? ›

Individuals who are concerned about radiofrequency exposure can limit their exposure, including using an ear piece and limiting cell phone use, particularly among children. Scientists have reported adverse health effects of using mobile phones including changes in brain activity, reaction times, and sleep patterns.

What can happen if you spend too much time on your phone? ›

Scientific research has shown that spending long hours sitting when using digital devices can cause a spike in insulin and blood glucose levels, and also lead to an accumulation of fat in your bloodstream. Spending less time on screens and more on being physically active can definitely help you avoid these problems!

How many hours on phone is addiction? ›

Around a quarter of those who showed signs of addiction used their phone for three hours a day, and a further 18.5 per cent said they used their device for more than five hours each day.

What happens if you stop using your phone for a week? ›

You can experience a withdrawal effect.

The same effect happens when you can't use your phone, but it happens only in the beginning. You may even experience nausea and headaches: “The only thing I can think about at this moment is my smartphone.” Some people even felt phantom vibrating or ringing.

How many hours should you use your phone a day? ›

What's a healthy amount of screen time for adults? Experts say adults should limit screen time outside of work to less than two hours per day. Any time beyond that which you would typically spend on screens should instead be spent participating in physical activity.

What are some of the things that will help to create a better relationship with your mobile device? ›

Establish a rule — for yourself and your family — of not keeping phones on the table during meals.
  • Create speed bumps. ...
  • Pay attention to your body. ...
  • Practice trial separations. ...
  • Use technology to protect yourself from technology. ...
  • Use the sight of other people on their phones as a reminder of your own intentions.
13 Feb 2018

Should your partner let you see their phone? ›

The long and short of it: No, it's generally not OK. It's a violation of your partner's privacy and a breach of trust ― not to mention, it's often unproductive: You might find nothing and then feel like a jerk for snooping. You might find something small and innocent and blow it out of proportion.

When your husband is addicted to his phone? ›

Some tell-tale signs that your loved one may be addicted to their smartphone include if he or she: Spends more time texting, tweeting, or emailing instead of talking to people in real life. Has been increasing the amount of time spent on the phone. Sleeps with the cell phone on or under the pillow.

What does it mean when a guy puts his phone face down? ›

If your partner puts their phone face down on a table, it could be a sign that they're cheating on you, according to one couple therapist. Melissa Ferrari, a Sydney-based couples therapist, told WHIMN, “A phone that is suddenly placed face down after being years with someone would be a possible red flag.

How do I make him worry about losing me? ›

How To Make A Guy Realize He Is Losing You
  1. Let Him Know That You Are Prepared To Walk Away. Save. ...
  2. Do Not Let Him Take Away Your Efforts In Vain. Easier said than done! ...
  3. Prioritize Yourself. ...
  4. Remind Him That He Is Not Your Only Option. ...
  5. Make Yourself Busy. ...
  6. Go For A New Look. ...
  7. Take A Break From Replying. ...
  8. Do Not Try To Please Him.
9 Sept 2022

How do you test him to see if he cares? ›

17 surprising ways to test a guy to see if he really loves you
  1. 1) Pay attention to the way he behaves. ...
  2. 2) Observe his eyes. ...
  3. 3) When it comes to love, he knows how to handle it. ...
  4. 4) He is jealous. ...
  5. 5) He makes time for you. ...
  6. 6) He tries to show you how much he cares. ...
  7. 7) He surprises you often.
6 Jan 2022

How do you give him space and make him miss you? ›

20 ideas to give a man space to fall in love again
  1. Don't call or text but be there. This is all about not panicking and not forcing yourself on him when he needs space. ...
  2. Reconnect with yourself. ...
  3. Be exciting. ...
  4. Be empathic. ...
  5. Listen to what he needs. ...
  6. Self-care. ...
  7. Personal goals. ...
  8. Sit with your fears.
29 Oct 2021

Why does my wife spend so much time on her phone? ›

As others have explained, addiction is probably the top reason your wife is spending so much time on her phone. They are constantly available, and it is easy to be drawn to them. Phones provide instant gratification and give us immediate access to information and social connection right at our fingertips.

How do you ask someone to get their phone off? ›

To help keep things cordial, you can ask a direct question that gives the person two simple options: (1) excuse himself to attend to the crisis happening on his device, or (2) kindly put away his phone. The question goes like this: “I see you're on your phone. Is everything okay?”

How can I help someone with nomophobia? ›

While there is no specific treatment for nomophobia, your therapist may recommend exposure therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, or both to address your symptoms. In some instances, your doctor may also prescribe some type of medication to address symptoms of anxiety or depression that you might be experiencing.

How does phubbing affect relationships? ›

According to their study of 145 adults, phubbing decreases marital satisfaction, in part because it leads to conflict over phone use. The scientists found that phubbing, by lowering marital satisfaction, affected a partner's depression and satisfaction with life.

Is phubbing ruining your relationship? ›

Phubbing, or phone snubbing, involves ignoring someone in favor of paying attention to your phone. Though it's a common habit, experts caution it can ruin your in-person relationships. Research has shown phubbing can lead to marital dissatisfaction and emotional distance.

Why phubbing is toxic for your relationship? ›

Coined as “phubbing”, excessive use of smartphones in the romantic context has been shown to represent a barrier to meaningful communication, causing conflict, lowering relationship satisfaction, and undermining individual well-being.

How do cell phones affect relationships? ›

We feel unheard, disrespected, disregarded. A set of studies actually showed that just having a phone out and present during a conversation (say, on the table between you) interferes with your sense of connection to the other person, the feelings of closeness experienced, and the quality of the conversation.

Is phubbing a real word? ›

Phubbing, a contraction of the words “phone snubbing,” is the act of ignoring a companion in favor of using a smartphone.

Who coined the term phubbing? ›

The word "phubbing," a portmanteau of phone and snubbing, was first described by McCann Group Account Director Adrian Mills, who was working with David Astle. The term has appeared in media around the world and was popularized by the Stop Phubbing campaign created by McCann.

Is phubbing an addiction? ›

In the majority of studies on phubbing behavior, among the leading predictors of this behavior are addictive tendencies, and perhaps most importantly, addiction to social media (Franchina et al., 2018; Błachnio & Przepiórka, 2019; Nazir & Bulut, 2019; Balta et al., 2020).

What is an example of phubbing? ›

Examples of phubbing include last night when you mindlessly scrolled through Instagram during dinner instead of asking your S.O. about their day, that time your dad answered emails in the corner instead of interacting with the family on Thanksgiving, and all those instances in which your little nephew made it clear he ...

Why is it called phubbing? ›

Phubbing, a contraction of the words “phone snubbing,” is the act of ignoring a companion in favor of using a smartphone.

How do you use phubbing? ›

According to survey results, 46.3 percent of respondents said they'd experienced phubbing at the hands of their significant other. It doesn't address the thorny issue of politely informing him that phubbing is obnoxious.

How do you tell someone they are on their phone too much? ›

For example, say, "I'm really into my phone, too. I just think it is so easy to overuse the phone." Tell them that their phone is really cool. Say "John, your phone really is awesome.
...
Pick the right moment.
  1. Initiate the conversation when you are together. ...
  2. Consider a quiet moment when you have some time to talk.

How does phubbing affect teens? ›

“Phubbing can make a child feel inadequate, lonely, rejected, and dismissed. Researchers have found that children become anxious or depressed when ignored. He or she may think they are insignificant.” Often, kids act out to get the attention they are craving.

Is it rude to use your phone when someone is talking to you? ›

Leave it out if you're with friends or colleagues who text and talk on their phone no matter who else is around— and as long as you yourself have no concerns about digital eye strain, blurred vision, headaches and neck problems (a.k.a. “text neck”).

Why are people always on their phone? ›

There are many reasons why people spend so much time on their phones, the most obvious reasons seem to be addiction, boredom, laziness and a desire for attention. While all these factors matter, it seems like real human interactions would often be a better approach.

What does it mean when someone is always on their phone? ›

"When you're constantly on your phone, you're living in your head rather than living your life. Think about it: being on the phone means you're constantly living in the digital world. You're reading about what everyone else is doing, and probably making up stories about them.

What is the meaning of Phubber? ›

/ˈfʌb.ər/ us. /ˈfʌb.ɚ/ someone who ignores the person that they are with and gives attention to their mobile phone instead: Do you get annoyed at phubbers who look at their phone instead of you? I'm not a phubber.

What is partner phubbing? ›

The term phubbing (a portmanteau of 'phone' and 'snubbing') refers to the act of focusing on one's mobile phone during a conversation instead of paying attention to a conversation partner (Ugur & Koc, 2015). If this act occurs within relationships, it is called partner-phubbing (pphubbing; Roberts & David, 2016).

Is phubbing disrespectful? ›

Phubbing tends to be rude and inconsiderate behavior. It conveys that the person on the other end of the phone is more important than the person you're talking to.

What is the full form of PHUB? ›

Peace Be Upon Him (PBUH) is a phrase used by Muslims after saying the name of a prophet of Islam.

Is phubbing a new word? ›

The word phubbing and its related derivations first appeared in 2012, formed from a blend of the noun phone and verb snub meaning 'to insult someone by ignoring them'.

What is a nomophobia? ›

The term NOMOPHOBIA or NO MObile PHone PhoBIA is used to describe a psychological condition when people have a fear of being detached from mobile phone connectivity.[1] However, the term “phobia” is a misnomer, because mostly it seems to be a kind of anxiety disorder.[2]

Is phubbing in the dictionary? ›

Meaning of phubbing in English

the act of ignoring someone you are with and giving attention to your cell phone instead: Researchers found almost half of relationships are affected by phubbing.

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