Why "Phubbing" is Bad for You! It Harms Your Health on So Many Levels
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Why "Phubbing" is Bad for You! It Harms Your Health on So Many Levels

Dr. Josh Axe — Food is Medicine
May 3, 2018

While phubbing may seem like no big deal and just part of life in a modern world, it’s actually something we really should be thinking twice about. More and more, studies are showing, and we’re seeing for ourselves, the harmful effects of this relatively new bad habit.


As if the link between cell phones and cancer wasn’t enough, we now have phubbing to worry about. Now, you may or may not be wondering: What is phubbing? Maybe using phubbing in a sentence will help: While having coffee with a friend, I was trying to tell her about my new job, but she was basically phubbing me the entire time!

If you’re still waiting for me to define phubbing, a basic phubbing definition is to choose technology, specifically your smartphone, over human interaction. Or, think of it this way: phone + snubbing = phubbing. Sadly, it’s something we’re all seeing around us on a daily basis these days.

Phubbing is bad for you, and the science is there to prove it. In fact, research suggests that it negatively impacts relationship satisfaction and overall life satisfaction. (1) Whether you’re looking to help yourself or someone you know, let’s take a look at the hazards of phubbing. We’ll investigate the many ways to stop phubbing today so you can return to a more normal, satisfying life.

What Is Phubbing?

So what is phubbing? Phubbing (urban dictionary top definition): snubbing someone in favor of your mobile phone. (2) Another way to define phubbing: to ignore a person or one’s surroundings when in a social situation by busying oneself with a phone or other mobile device. (3) The correct phubbing pronunciation is. Again, think of the word “phone” combined with “snubbing.”

One more phubbing meaning along the same lines comes from the Oxford Living Dictionary. That definition? Phubbing is “the practice of ignoring one’s companion or companions in order to pay attention to one’s phone or other mobile device.” This mix of the words “phone” and “snubbing” is said to have been created by an Australian advertising agency as part of a marketing campaign with the Macquarie Dictionary. (4)

What causes phubbing? Research published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions reveals that factors associated with phubbing behavior include addictions to:

  • Mobile phone
  • Texting
  • Social media
  • Internet addictions (5)

Another study published in 2018 looked at phubbing behavior amongst 400 young adults selected randomly from five colleges in India and produced similar results. Researchers found that the most important predictors linked with phubbers were:

  • Internet addiction
  • Smartphone addiction
  • Fear of missing out
  • Lack of self-control (6)

I’m sure you’re now getting the picture. In fact, chances are you’ve been phubbed. (Or maybe you’ve done it?)

While phubbing may seem like no big deal and just part of life in a modern world, it’s actually something we really should be thinking twice about. More and more, studies are showing, and we’re seeing for ourselves, the harmful effects of this relatively new bad habit.

4 Major Dangers of Phubbing

Phubbing is a funny sounding word for something that is actually pretty serious. And it’s only getting worse as time goes on. Conversations about cell phone health often focus on radiation and its potential impact on the brain and other organs. Now, it’s time to take a look at what phubbing can do to your mental and emotional health, too.

  1. General Relationship Killer

Psychology Today recently published an article titled, “Phubbing—The #1 Phone Habit to Drop For Better Relationships.” By far, one of the most negative impacts of phubbing relates to its ability to damage relationships in your life. This including the ones you have with your family members, friends and co-workers. According to Emma Seppälä, a psychologist at Stanford and Yale universities and author of The Happiness Track: “Ironically, phubbing is meant to connect you, presumably, with someone through social media or texting. But it actually can severely disrupt your present-moment, in-person relationships.” (7)

 

Whether you’re someone who is commonly phubbing others or you’re on the receiving end of it, there’s no doubt about it — it often leads to emotional distress. When two people are physically together and one or both are choosing a phone over human interaction, feelings of disconnection, anger and resentment may crop up. Depending on the people involved and how often the phubbing takes place, the damage can be ongoing or even permanent.

  1. Harms Romantic Partnerships

Recent research shows that when one or both people in a romantic relationship are phubbers, the consequences should be taken seriously. One study found that phubbing’s negative impact on relationship satisfaction can degrade life satisfaction and trigger signs of depression.

When spouses or significant others phub each other, they’re more likely to be dissatisfied with their relationship and their lives in general. They’re also more likely to feel depressed. The study also found that people with anxious attachment styles reported higher levels of cell phone conflict than those with less anxious attachment styles. (8)

  1. Damages Mental Health

A clinical study published in 2018 in the Journal of Applied Social Psychologylooked at the effects of phubbing on social interaction. The study participants watched a three-minute animation where they imagined themselves as part of a two-person conversation. During that conversation, the other person either phubbed them extensively, partially or not at all.  Overall, the researchers found that phubbing threatened four fundamental human needs:


 

 

 

 





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