Here’s yet another reason compulsive phone-checkers may want to stash their device more often: Cell phones can damage romantic relationships and lead to a greater chance of depression, according to a new study.
Researchers from Baylor University conducted two separate surveys of nearly 500 U.S. adults in order to analyze the effects of “Pphubbing,” or partner phone snubbing. In other words, they wanted to find out how often people are distracted by their phones when they’re with their significant others and if it had any effect on their relationships.
Unsurprisingly, the study uncovered that when partners felt “phone snubbed,” it created conflict and led to lower reported satisfaction in the relationship. This created a domino effect of sorts, researchers said, and led to lower reported life satisfaction and ultimately to greater reported levels of depression.
The study measured snubbing based on a scientifically-developed scale of statements, such as “My partner keeps his or her cell phone in hand when he or she is with me” and “If there is a lull in our conversation, my partner will check his or her cell phone.”
The results found 46 percent of respondents reported feeling phone snubbed by their partner and nearly 23 percent said it caused an issue in their relationship. More than 36 percent of participants reported feeling depressed at least some of the time. The findings were published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.
The study highlights how an attachment to devices, however unintentional, affects major components of people’s lives. While screens can be a useful tool for communication, they can also stand in the way of it — and hurt well-being in the process. Research also shows too much tech may negatively affect the brain.
However, all hope isn’t lost. Smartphones aren’t going anywhere anytime soon (and we don’t want them to), but there is a way to use them mindfully in order to create a balance. Here are just a few ways to practice good smartphone hygiene:
- Make some time for a screen-free activity. There are so many options — from reading to volunteering — you may as well give them all a try. Bonus? They also have health perks.
- Sign out of email after work. People mindlessly check their inboxes as frequently as they check everything else, which can lead to burnout.
- Ditch the phone 30 minutes before bed. Research shows the blue light emitted from screens can disrupt sleep.
- Turn off push notifications. No alert? No temptation.
And truthfully, stashing the phone altogether and logging some real face time in the presence of a significant other probably wouldn’t hurt either.
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