Phubbing is the action that occurs when people check their smartphones during meaningful interactions with other people. This action can have a negative effect on relationships by blocking a basic human need.

Besides affecting other people's mental health, it can also make the person appear rude in doing this.

The Need To Belong

Researchers from the University of Kent released a study in the Journal of Applied Science on the effect of people being phubbed during a one-on-one social situation. They found that the more people were phubbed, the more that this action negatively affected the way the person being phubbed felt about how the interaction was going.

In the study, scientists refer to phubbing as a form of social exclusion. This can affect people's human needs, belonging, self-esteem, meaningful existence, and control. Phubbing can cause people to feel excluded and ostracized.

Researchers used 153 participants for the study. Instead of using direct human interactions, researchers used a different route to see the effects of phubbing. Participants were shown an animation of two people engaging in a conversation. They were then asked to place themselves in the situation that was presented. They were shown one of these three different situations, no phubbing, partial phubbing, or extensive phubbing.

The greater the level of phubbing, the more the participants felt their needs were being threatened by the interaction. The increasing level of phubbing also pushed participants to judge the level of communication to be poor and the relationship to be less satisfying. Phubbing had a large effect on the need to belong among the participants.

Previous Phubbing Studies

Phubbing has been studied extensively in the last few years to see what this action can take on the mental health of people. A study from 2016 found that texting could sway how a conversation is perceived. Texting during a conversation made it less satisfying for the people that were having it.

Another study from 2012 found that the presence of a smartphone during an interaction, even if no one was using it, made people feel less connected to it.

The presence of smartphones doesn't just affect relationships, it also affects the way people eat. A study from February 2018 shows that people who used their phones while eating with friends or family enjoyed their meal less and were more distracted and less engaged than those who didn't.

Smartphones are changing the way people think and how they can interact with others. Phubbing is a consequence of the growing interconnectedness that is having negative impacts on people.

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