Phone usage may have harmful effects on the relationships in your life


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – We text. We tweet. We talk. We shop. We scroll. And we do it all through our phones.  We may not want to admit it, but our phone is never too far away from us.

“It’s something people feel like they can’t live without,” said Jackie Dikos, co-owner of Field Brewing.

When our heads are stuck in our phones, we aren’t fully paying attention to what and who is around us.

“You may not even realize you’re having a negative effect on the other person,” said Michelle Drouin, a psychology professor at Purdue University Fort Wayne.

The average U.S. adult spends nearly 3 hours and 43 minutes on their mobile devices every day, and that amount is predicted to increase over the next couple years.

“It’s wrapping up all your energy into this technology when you could be focusing your energy elsewhere,” said Drouin.

There’s a term for being on your phone and snubbing someone.

“Phubbing is actually the intentional choice to look at your phone while you’re interacting with a conversation partner, and it can have serious effects,” said Drouin.

Drouin has studied technology and the toll it can have on relationships.

“It makes sense that this is having a negative effect on romantic relationships. And I don’t think we are being catastrophic in this; I think this is a very real depiction of what is happening in terms of technology and relationships,” said Drouin.

It can make a partner feel that you’re choosing to engage in something that isn’t them, causing conflict, less satisfaction in the relationship and a feeling of neglection.

“Some people don’t recognize what they’re doing is possibly hurting their partner. They’re just trying to do whatever it is they’re doing online,” said Drouin.

Each ding, vibration or alert is a technological interference.  Those digital disruptions aren’t just felt in romantic relationships.

“It’s affecting the family unit at its core,” said Drouin.

At Field Brewing in downtown Westfield, silver buckets at the center of the tables serve as a challenge.

“I think we all need an excuse to disconnect so really, all of us” said Dikos.

On Tuesday’s, it’s ‘Turn off Tuesday,’ at Field Brewing. The restaurant offers 15% off your bill if you put your phone in the bucket and leave it there for your entire meal.

“There’s definitely the reality check of being tempted to check your phone over the course of that time,” said Dikos.

Disconnecting with your phones gives you the chance to reconnect with those around your table.

“People are recognizing they have a problem; the leap would be committing to solve the problem. Because people don’t want to give up the convenience of their phone,” said Drouin.

It’s 2020, you don’t have to go full blown digital detox—small steps could be all is takes.

“Something I preach is ‘sacred times and sacred spaces.’ So decide for yourself what times and spaces you want to have as tech-free times and spaces,” said Drouin.

If you feel like your relationship or family could use a bit of a break from your phones, it’s a conversation you should have. Not through a text or a FaceTime, but a phone free face-to-face talk.

“When people do step away from technology, I think they can get a really good sense of how much technology was dominating their lives before,” said Drouin.

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