For some, cell phones are nothing more than devices for phone calls. But for many, modern day cell phones have become necessary in our lives, reminding us of appointments, enabling video chat, helping simplify how we manage our time, finances, social communication and more. And because we can use our phones for just about everything, over usage could begin to impact our lives and relationships negatively.
Does that seem a bit far-fetched? Don’t be so quick to dismiss the idea! Take a look at how some typical smartphone behaviors could be damaging the relationships in your life – and some ways to prevent that from happening.
1. Relying on text messages can make it difficult to connect with someone.
Cell phones allow for easier communication, especially when you can text a message quickly instead of having a voice conversation. Texting is convenient in situations when you need to relay information, but you don’t want to have a lengthy conversation.
Some people, however, rely heavily on texting in the beginning of a new relationship and while they’re getting to know another person. While this can be an easy way to maintain contact, you want to be sure it doesn’t become your sole method of communication.
This is especially hard if you’re shy or nervous. Even so, when you constantly hide behind a keyboard, it can take longer for a relationship to develop into something meaningful. And if you get stuck in a routine of only texting each other, transitioning to phone conversations or in-person dates later on can be awkward and uncomfortable. You may even develop a habit of discussing personal and important matters via text, keeping you from addressing these conflicts in person. It’s also harder to convey emotion in a text message, so you could easily misconstrue someone’s statement.
If you’re looking to connect with someone, make a concerted effort to close the messaging app and open the phone. This way, you’re able to hear emotions and excitement in each other’s voice, and there’s less likely to be any type of misunderstandings.
2. Phone can become a distraction in the relationship.
There’s no denying the usefulness of cell phones. They can help us plan our life, run our business and we can search the web and gather information from anywhere. But moderation is key, and if you don’t have moderation in your relationship, a cell phone could become a distraction.
Instead of spending quality time together, you and your partner may be off doing your own thing and your cell phones become your main form of entertainment. You might have a planned date night, yet spend 90 percent of the time on your social media feeds and not talking to each other. Of course, you can have your own private space and time, but by no means should you have a stronger connection with your phone than your partner.
So the next time you and your partner spend time together, try to set some no-cell-phone rules. Agree not to look at your phones during dinner. Ask each other questions you haven’t covered via text. If you’re not at work, try to not answer emails.
At night, get off your phones 30 minutes to an hour before bed and spend quality time together. You can also turn off notifications, so you’re not tempted to respond to social media posts or games.
Taking these steps could potentially lead to a more satisfying relationship. Plus, when you put your relationship over a cell phone, this may alleviate some of the strains in your relationship. One study examining the relational effects of “phubbing” (partner phone snubbing) found that approximately 46.3 percent of survey participants “reported being phubbed by their partners.” About 22.6 percent felt this led to problems in their relationships, and 36.6 percent reported “feeling depressed at least some of the time.”
Relationships are already difficult and tricky, so it’s important to eliminate any external force that can drive a wedge between you and your partner. So while your phone typically serves a useful purpose, keeping you connected with your loved ones like never before, make sure you’re not overindulging and ultimately ignoring those who are closest to you.