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Every day we witness the negative effects technology has on socializing. The latest form of social exclusion is “phubbing” (phone snubbing). Ths is the practice of ignoring one’s companion(s) in order to pay attention to one’s phone or mobile device. An act so common, that it officially has a definition on dictionary.com.

Aside from being a social etiquette faux pas, new research shows that phubbing can have a negative psychological effect on the ignored party. Psychologists from the University of Kent conducted multiple studies of one-to-one social situations. Participants took part in one of three scenarios: no phubbing, partial phubbing, or extensive phubbing. The results showed the higher degree of phubbing, the worse the receiving party felt about their communication with the “phubber,” the relationship, and their self-esteem. Those being ignored felt less desired and found the relationship to be less satisfying.

Unlike many other forms of social exclusion, phubbing is more convenient since technology is at our fingertips. Here are some tips to combat phubbing.


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For the Phubber

  1. Have Some Freaking Consideration. Think of how you’re making the other people around you feel every time you get on your phone in a social setting.  If roles were reversed, would you be okay with being ignored?
  2. Be Upfront About What’s Up. If you have a legitimate reason to be on your phone constantly let your company know you have something to handle. Give them the option of rescheduling plans or sitting through your face buried in the screen while you “handle it” like Olivia Pope.  Be communicative so they don’t feel shunned.
  3. Make a Big Picture Assessment. Is your rude behavior pushing those around you away? Are you no longer invited to outings you used to attend? Are you losing business opportunities? Are you constantly stressed? Are you using the phone to escape face-to-face interactions? Take a moment to figure out how your phubbing is negatively impacting the things that are important to you and use that as motivation to make a change.
  4. Put the Damn Phone Down. Get into the habit of putting your phone away when you’re in social settings. Going cold turkey may be hard, so start by giving yourself intervals of phone access. For example, you can check your phone every 15 or 20 minutes. Avoid looking on social media when you’re at a real-life social event. Instead, focus on creating a moment that you can post.



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For the Phubbed

  1. It’s Never About You: Don’t take someone’s phubbing as a problem with you. It doesn’t make you any less entertaining or appealing when someone is glued to their phone.
  2. Speak Up: Let that phubber know this behavior is annoying you at the moment. You don’t have to be rude, but make sure you are frank so the individual understands this is serious.  If she/he doesn’t take heed, nix the individual from your next event or exit a conversation s/he starts. Don’t forget to relay the why. The person should get the message—and if not, at least your time is no longer wasted.


Arielle Neblett is a freelancer for CASSIUS.