Every new major technology disrupts the cultural and social patterns into which it emerges.  The radio and then television changed the evening routines of many households in America.  So, it is no surprise that the smartphone impacts how we interact and relate to one another.

It is not an exaggeration to say that smartphones have revolutionized many aspects of our lives and made life more convenient.  Smartphones have freed us from being tethered to a computer and have allowed us to get information anywhere or at any time.

In addition to keeping us informed, smartphones also connect us in ways unimaginable even forty years ago. Through mobile communication and social media, people stay in touch by sharing their thoughts, photos and videos,

This increased information and social interaction has created new problems for our society.  Aside from the oft-reported problems of increased misinformation, poor adolescent self-esteem and overall anxiety,  the addictive nature of smartphone use produces new problems for couples.  Smart Phones, Social Media and our Psyche: Three things to know about the technical marvel in your pocket. | Pastoral Counseling Syracuse NY (revmichaelheath.com)

The amount of time spent on smartphones has created a serious problem for many marriages. Recent studies reveal that 70% of couples complain that their partner’s smartphone use interferes with their relationship.  The term used to describe these issues is phubbing (phone/snubbing).

Phubbing is defined as the act of ignoring someone you are with and giving attention to your cell phone instead. ‘Parallel Scrolling’ In Bed With Your Partner Could Be Killing Your Relationship | HuffPost Life

Sound familiar ? Here are some questions and things to think about concerning the consequences of spending too much time on your smartphone.:

1) Does your spouse ever complain about how much time you spend on your phone ?

2) Do you ever feel ignored by your spouse when they are wrapped up on their phone ?

3) Do you and your partner “parallel scroll” in bed ?

4) Have you noticed that you and your partner are talking less in bed ?

5)  Are you having less sex because one or both of you are spending too much time on your smartphone?

If you answered yes to any of these, here are some tips for dealing with smartphone use and getting control of your phubbing problem.

 Dealing with smartphone problems at home.

—  First, acknowledge the issue and talk about it.

Explain how smartphone use is a problem.  Figure out when it began.   Assess if has gotten worse.

— Set some basic ground rules for smartphone use.

Be specific. Include details like when, where and how long it’s okay to browse .

— Put the smartphone problem into the context of your relationship.

Talk about how each of you feels about your relationship.  Explore if smartphone use could be hiding any”elephants” in the room.  If so, talk to a counselor.

Even though smartphones enrich our lives and entertain us, we must recognize how easily they can interfere with other important areas of our lives .  This is especially true in relationships. Thus, when scrolling on a phone begins to take the place of talking to or simply being with one’s partner, it can create insecurity or mistrust in the relationship.

Given how dramatically smartphones have changed our lives, it is important to understand that most of these problems are simply the result of change.  Fortunately, increased awareness and some common-sense rules can correct most difficulties.  If not, a therapist can help uncover any underlying problem for which phubbing is but a symptom.

Rev. Michael Heath, LMHC, Fellow A.A.P.C.    May 1, 2024