We’re turning into a nation of ‘phubbers’

editorial image

Internet addiction is fuelling a new phenomenon dubbed “phubbing” - snubbing friends and family for your smartphone.

Research shows people are increasingly ‘phubbing’ - and experiencing being ‘phubbed’ - in social situations. The study suggests this then leads them to view the behaviour as normal.

The term refers to snubbing your partner to look at your phone - “phone” plus “snubbing” equals “phubbing”. And research has suggested it’s a relationship killer.

Now new research, published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour, identifies three factors linked to being hooked on smartphones - internet addiction, a fear of missing out and a lack of self-control.

This smartphone addiction was in turn directly linked to people demonstrating phubbing behaviour.

The researchers further found it was this experience of phubbing - and of being phubbed themselves - that made people more likely to believe phubbing was “normal”.

Prof Karen Douglas, of Kent University, said: “Smartphones allow people to connect with others from almost anywhere at any time. However there’s growing concern smartphones may actually sometimes detract from, rather than complement, social interactions.

“The results revealed internet addiction, fear of missing out and self-control predicted smartphone addiction - which in turn predicted the extent to which people phub.

“This path also predicted the extent to which people feel phubbing is normative - both via the extent to which people are phubbed themselves and independently.”

In the study 251 participants aged 18 to 66 were questioned about their phubbing experiences and smartphone use. The findings suggest phubbing is an important factor in modern communication that warrants further investigation.