Your Smartphone Addiction is Natural, But It Could Be Harming Your Relationship More Than You Know
If you reviewed the lifestyle of people living two decades ago, you would find it to be very different compared to the one we are living right now. And we are not even talking about a very long time ago. We are referring back to the 90s, a time when smartphones didn’t exist at all. Now, smartphones have become an extension of our existence.
According to a study conducted by PEW Research, out of all the survey respondents, around 50% of adults said that their smartphone was an essential item in their life. This is quite alarming considering the human race was doing just fine without smartphones only 15 years ago.
No matter where you are or what the situation, all of us are tempted to check our phones after every few minutes out of habit. It is fine to do so when one is alone, but, when one is being accompanied by someone else, using your smartphone in front of them will possibly make them feel a variety of negative emotions, including a sense of being ignored or distanced.
This interference in social relationships being caused by smartphones is now being called technoference. Researchers are studying the impact of smartphones on the health of social relationships.
The focus of this research is multi-faceted, as researchers are also trying to figure out a variety of things including why people check their phone frequently throughout the day. According to them, the culprit is evolution, which means it is completely natural for us to be drawn to our smartphone screens all the time.
Our Evolutionary History
According to the professor of psychology at the University of Arizona, David Sbarra, human beings, by nature, are attracted to avenues which promote social connections and inspire people to connect with each other. The argument goes that human beings, throughout history, have always been inclined to develop a close-knit social circle as it helped them overcome the hardships of nature with the power of teamwork.
This ability to work as a team and divide up responsibility among individuals to sustain an entire group, which is the basis of human society as we know it, has created an innate need within us to connect. However, a major factor which has always defined the strength of these relationships is the level of trust as well as cooperation between people, which only increases once people begin to divulge personal information that helps the other person understand them on a deeper level, and when they actively participate in conversations.
Thanks to smartphones, doing this has become very easy as we have access to potentially millions of people via our smartphones thanks to social media and of course, the good old text messaging service. Now, people can easily develop deeper connections with people around the world, both by exchanging personal information about one another, and also by responding to each other almost instantaneously and at whichever time of the day.
Hard-Wired in the Brain
There is nothing unnatural about our addiction to smartphones, as historically we have needed social connections to survive. Although now that need does not exist, yet our evolution has in-built this need to connect with others within our brain, and when smartphones made it easier for us to do exactly that, it became biologically impossible for us to resist spending hours on it.
Causing Harm to Our Relationships
Unfortunately, and quite ironically, while smartphones are delivering our brain the satisfaction that we are well connected, we are slowly losing touch with the close relationships in our life, such as family and friends, who are physically present around us. This is obviously causing discord in the strength of the relationship being shared by partners, parents and children, siblings, and close friends.
The study also revealed that this addiction to smartphones is causing the relationship to weaken due to the interference being caused by smartphones. When 143 women were asked whether smartphones are causing a disturbance in their relationship with their spouse, around 70% responded in the affirmative.
However, Sbarra does concede that smartphones may also be healthier for couples who remain connected through it, even though there is a geographical distance between them, strengthening the relationship. By the end, perhaps it all depends on the way we use smartphones, and no the technology itself, that defines whether it has a good or bad impact on our relationships.
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