I was speaking with a friend recently about phones and texting, and he used the term ‘phubbing’. While I agree that texting is a viable form of communication, as a mental health professional, I’m concerned that too many teens and adults attempt to carry on a conversation through texting while they ignore the person standing in front of them.

Social connection can be difficult. Mental health professionals are expressing more concern about the impact of technology on the development of social skills. Phone use has become a regular part of our culture and can be used positively. But phubbing is basically snubbing the person standing in front of you in favor of your phone. But how do you make the differentiation between one persona and another. Who is important in that moment?  How do you know you are phubbing too much?

Well, here are some factors to consider:

Do you always have your cell phone close and visible?

Do you reach for the phone or answer the text while the other person is still talking?

Do you attend to your phone during leisure time rather than paying attention to the person you are with?

Do you play games, check social media, answer texts or search non conversation relevant items while you are at dinner with someone?

Surveys show that almost 50% of people admit to phubbing. About a quarter of them feel that it has a negative impact on their relationships. To combat phubbing, be more aware of your own behavior. If you are anxious about your phone or easily distracted, practice putting it in a pocket or purse where you can not see it.  Finally, calmly call out friends who are phubbing you.

If you would like to learn how to deal with phubbing or improve your own relationships, call Specialized Therapy Associates at 201-488-6678.