Do you know someone who spends too much time on their cell phone? Silly question. Of course, you do. Do you spend too much time on your cell phone? Of course, you do. Confession: I do too.
According to one study, people typically touch their phones 47 times per day! Now that’s scary! And the number jumps to 82 times per day if you’re between 18 and 24 years old. Scarier still.
If those numbers are accurate, how can we all not be spending too much time on our phones?
And, of course, there’s a corollary. If we’re spending all that time reaching out and touching our phones, when are we ever reaching out and interacting with human beings in person – or at least telephonically, the way God and Alexander Graham Bell intended?
People are hard-wired to make connections with one another and seek approval. In the “old days” – 10-15 years ago, we used to do that face-to-face or at least by having actual conversations on the telephone.
Teen Talk Time
As a teen-ager, I spent hours on the phone with my best girlfriend, reviewing the day, discussing every detail of events that transpired between our friends, enemies and would-be boyfriends. We might have just parted 15 minutes earlier and I might have spent the whole day with her but talking to her was essential to validate my experiences and impressions.
When I dated Handsome Hubby long-distance, we spent hours each night whispering the proverbial sweet nothings to each other and planning our future.
That doesn’t happen today. Notice how people sitting together in restaurants and two-on-every-block coffee shops don’t look at one another and talk anymore? They’re all too busy texting, tapping, Insta-gram-ing, tweeting and … what-ever-ing.
It’s so prevalent that wordsmiths and the other experts who come up with new words to describe trends describe this tendency of ignoring the person you’re with to focus on your phone as phubbing, a blending of phone and snubbing.
There are, in fact, a whole host of techno-in-excess terms available, including technoference, which covers being snubbed in favor of any device – and a couple that don’t require explanations: cellfishness and phoneliness.
And in the Battle of the Sexes, both are losers. “A key to a healthy relationship is being present,” said Dr. James Roberts, author of Too Much of a Good Thing: Are You Addicted to Your Smartphone? “When one partner constantly checks his or her phone, it sends an implicit message that they find the phone (or what’s on it) more interesting than you.” (The New York Times)
A couple of years back, the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture reported that seven out of 10 women said that smartphones were hurting their primary relationship. More than one-third of the 143 women in the study said their significant other responded to notifications mid-conversation and one in four said their guy texted during conversations.
One night I was trying to talk to Handsome Hubby about something or other. I don’t remember what, but I’m sure it was of earthshaking consequence to our family or the universe. He, of course, had his head buried in his smartphone.
“Are you listening to me?” I demanded (in a sweet, loving voice, as always).
“Huh,” he replied. “No, sorry. Can it wait? I’m trying to read something you emailed me. It looks really interesting.”
I had no idea how to respond to that! Insulted? Pleased?
And the guys aren’t the only offenders. According to Dr. Roberts, women are guilty of phubbing as well. But our motives are, of course, much loftier. We’re not (just) checking the latest NBA stats and what’s happening at the office, we’re making sure the kids are OK. Am I right, ladies?
Phone Vs. Phub
The word “phubbing,” in fact, comes to us from Dr. Roberts, who created a quiz to determine if you’re a little too cozy your phone!
Reveal: I took the quiz, and to my surprise, I’m not an excessive user! But, to be honest, I may have fudged a couple of times on my answer – and I did have one advantage – I don’t Instagram!
Yes, in a world of addictions and obsessive-compulsive behaviors – alcohol, drugs, gambling, food, we can add smartphones to the list of abuses.
I can just see how a meeting of Smartphone Users Anonymous starts: a hat is passed and everyone present must put his/her/their device in it for the duration of the session. Each speaker begins by saying something like, “I sat through Thanksgiving dinner without fact-checking one thing Uncle Harry said and I didn’t even send a pic out on Grandma’s delish pumpkin pie on Pinterest. Man, I was jonesing by the end of the meal, but I made it!”
Applause and amen from the assembled crowd.
Do You Phub?
Meanwhile, a University of Connecticut psychiatry professor and founder of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction has also developed the Smartphone Compulsion Test, to help determine if a person’s phone use is excessive. I may take that test later, but right now I’ve got two texts to respond to, three messages have just come in via Messenger, and I haven’t checked for at least two hours to see if anybody new has liked my last Facebook post. So, gotta go. More later!