Is Your Smartphone Ruining Your Personal Relationships?

Smartphone ruining your relationships

Whether you mean to do it or not, you’re “phubbing.” You may be even phubbing someone right now as you read this! What’s phubbing? Phubbing is snubbing someone you are talking to while looking at your phone. This word may be new to you, but guaranteed you’ve fallen prey to it or you’re an offender.

Smartphones serve as personal assistants, matchmakers and even shopping aides. But as our phones are getting smarter and keeping us more “connected” to the world around us, could they be ruining our personal connections with others?

Learn some of the downsides of an overreliance on phones and find a few simple ways you can reconnect and improve your personal relationships with others.

Might as well face it, you’re addicted to your phone. With their mind- and mood-altering capabilities, smartphones can be as addictive as gambling.

Adeola Adelayo, MD, a practicing psychiatrist with Banner Behavioral Health Hospital, says countless research has shown this kind of behavior can have a detrimental effect on you and those around you.

“When other people use their phones, we begin to feel the need to do the same. There’s this fear of missing out (FOMO) that takes place,” she said.

You feel less connected. Several studies have shown that phubbing makes face-to-face interactions less meaningful. If you are missing important yet subtle nonverbal cues from your friend, child or significant other, you may be missing key parts of the conversation. And vice versa, with your head in your phone, they will feel less connected with you.

It’s just not good for anyone’s health. Research has shown phubbing threatens four fundamental needs: belongingness, self-esteem, meaningful existence and control. This affects not only you but those around you.

Strategies to Keep Your Smartphone Use in Check

1. Establish House Rules. Establish a rule in your home that there will be no phone use during certain times (i.e., dinnertime, after 8 p.m., or before 9 a.m.).

“This gives your family time to reconnect about your day or discuss your plans for the given day. You’ll be able to better connect with your spouse and children,” Dr. Adelayo said.

2. Use an App to Monitor Time. This can work for your kids and for yourself. There are tons of apps that can help monitor everything from overall screen time usage, social media use – even time limits you can set for yourself and children.

3. Make Bedrooms Tech-Free. This may be a hard one for some, so you can start with keeping your phone across the room from your bed – “out of sight, out of mind and safely out of reach,” Dr. Adelayo said. She suggests purchasing an old school alarm clock, so you don’t need your phone by your bed to wake you up.

“Keeping your room tech-free signals to your brain that this is a place to rest and relax your mind and body. Your quality of rest will benefit greatly,” she said.

4. Pocket Your Phone While Out with Friends. You may be tempted to reach for your phone while out with friends but shutting it off or placing it on do not disturb can signal to your friends that you value this time and conversation. Have a sitter at home? Most phones have a setting so that any calls or texts can come through from him/her, but otherwise you’ll be left unencumbered.

If you feel like you’re having a hard time not using your phone constantly, seek help. As mentioned in this article, addiction is real. If you feel you don’t have control, talk to a therapist who specializes in addiction counseling. Visit to find a specialist near you.

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  • Hilary Parry says:
    Thank you for taking on this topic! I would love to see a bigger effort amongst Banner and pediatricians to warn parents/kids about the harmful effects of phone use (late nights, lack of sleep) and particularly social media (body shaming, dangerous challenges, constant self comparison to “perfect people”) on children and teens and their mental/emotional health. Screen use is hugely negatively impacting even very young children and teens. I would love to see Banner sponsor someone like Collin Kartchner who is traveling night and day all around the country trying to get this message out. 
  • Dennis W. Klug says:
    I got into trouble with my wife when I was reading this article. 
  • Walter Ayala says:
    Thank you for this alert to awareness of smartphones making relationships of any kind ill important,unless your on the smartphone with them. I’ll have phones over instead of friends. The only time there is interactionis when one of my smartphone friends has captured a new smartphone to date and even then we all may get a group text on his conquist.  I’m going to suggest that we put our phones down and let’s have a conversation to see how long that will last . I’ll check back with you . Again thanks for the insight
  • Lisa says:
    Based on the title, I thought this was going to be written for college students & young adults, but seems this is only relevant to parents of kids between 10 & 17.

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