New Year? Let’s See…
Written by: J. Stokes – January 10, 2017
Welcome to the new year, everyone! It’s now 2017 and the American drama hasn’t changed one bit. From Meryl Streep firing shots at president-elect Donald Trump to the beef between Soulja Boy and Chris Brown, we’re in for quite a show. Seems many New Year’s Resolutions are now dead and gone. Still, this doesn’t necessarily mean that one should be discouraged from starting over again. As the late Albert Einstein once asserted, “You never fail until you stop trying.” With that being said, here’s a New Year’s Resolution we feel may help many of you.
Has it ever occurred to you how much time one spends on their cellphone (sometimes used synonymously with smartphones) every day? Past research has found that cellphones are being used an average of five times an hour, every waking hour. This, in turn, has led to much concern surrounding people’s memory, ability to think creatively, and overall cognitive processes. With this understanding, don’t you think it might be appropriate for people to limit their cellphone usage? We believe limiting cellphone use serves as an excellent New Year’s Resolution. Still, some of you out there may feel this isn’t a major area for concern, despite the aforementioned consequences.
After all, who needs a good memory when a smartphone can provide daily reminders? What’s the point of thinking when the world is at our fingertips? Well, one counterargument to these questions could be that while people may benefit from cellphones on an individual level, interpersonal relationships, specifically intimate ones, tend to suffer.
It seems these days that people would much rather interact with a hand held device than other humans. This can become especially problematic when romantic feelings are involved. Roberts (2016) in the article “Smartphones are ruining your love life” underscores the term “phubbing” (a combination of “phone” and “snubbing,” or ignoring) to best describe scenarios where one romantic partner is distracted by their cellphone in the presence of the other partner. How many of you out there have been guilty of this in the past, or presently engage in such a behavior? You might be doing this without being aware. Dr. Sally Andrews, a psychologist at Nottingham Trent University, once told The Huffington Post in an email, “A lot of smartphone use seems to be habitual, automatic behaviors that we have no awareness of.” Having social media sites, such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook on one’s phone is sometimes more of a detriment than one would think.
Nongpong and Charoensukmongkol (2016) have stated that “relationship problems inevitably arise when individuals spend an excessive amount of time on social media rather than paying attention to or spending quality time with their partners when they are together” (Nongpong & Charoensukmongkol, 2016, p. 351). How difficult is it for one to resist a phone notification when dining with the love of their life? More difficult then we can assume, obviously. In their study of technological interference in relationships, McDaniel and Coyne (2016) found that 62 percent “of participants felt technology interfered in their couple leisure time at least once a day, and a substantial proportion reported that it interfered with their conversations (35%) and at mealtime (33%) at least once a day” (McDaniel & Coyne, 2016, p. 93).
It should be noted, however, that participants consisted of 143 married or cohabitating women in heterosexual relationships, most of whom identified as White and had completed some degree of college. Still, findings from McDaniel and Coyne’s (2016) study weren’t far off from widely accepted beliefs about cellphone usage and relationship issues.
Aside from causing one to ignore their romantic partner, excessive cellphone usage can also infuse relationships with “a consumerist perspective.” This refers to a situation where individuals in a relationship find better romantic options through utilizing other social media outlets on their cellphones. In other words, cellphones, smartphones in particular, are giving people access to a multitude of romantic options that they may not have had before. Sure, your boyfriend might be a great catch but so are the other 92 male prospects available via Tinder. We actually covered dating via social media in much more detail once before.
Ultimately, we must dial back our cellphone usage when it comes to interacting with others. The irony is that in some cases cellphone use is one of the only ways that people can form social relationships with others who live far away or overseas. Nevertheless, our idea for a New Year’s Resolution still stands. Why not limit cellphone usage this year? If you have a loved one, doing so might help your relationship. Putting down your handheld device may also improve interpersonal relationships with others outside of romantic involvement. Wouldn’t it be better to engage in open dialogue with a person physically as opposed to depending on a small screen and mini keypad?
**What did you think of today’s post? Are you willing to adopt our suggested New Year’s Resolution??
McDaniel, B. T., & Coyne, S. M. (2016). “Technoference”: The interference of technology in couple relationships and implications for women’s personal and relational well-being. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 5(1), 85.