December 7, 2014

Is Your Relationship At Risk Due To ‘Technoference’

April Flowers for - Your Universe Online

With a plethora of apps like Grindr, Tinder, 3nder, and Pure to help you find a “hook up,” it would seem like the smartphone has become the new singles bar and spring break wrapped up in one. Not so, according to a new study from Brigham Young University (BYU) and Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) published in Psychology of Popular Media Culture.

Authors Brandon T. McDaniel of Penn State and Sarah Coyne of BYU found that the seemingly small, everyday interruptions that come with smartphones and other techno-devices are causing interference in romantic relationships.

The researchers recruited 143 women, all in committed relationships, for the study. The women were surveyed about their use of phone, TV, computer and tablet devices. The survey also, according to The Daily Mail, asked about their partner’s use of the devices, any conflicts arising from use, and their overall satisfaction with the relationship and life in general. They found that 74 percent of the women believe interactions with their spouse or partner are being negatively impacted by cell phones.

The results also showed that 62 percent of the participants felt that technology interfered with their “couple free time,” 35 percent said their partner will check their phone in the middle of a conversation if they receive a notification, and 25 percent reported that their partner will actively text other people during face-to-face conversations.

“This is likely a circular process that people become trapped in where allowing technology to interfere, even in small ways, in one's relationship at least sometimes causes conflict, which can begin to slowly erode the quality of their relationship,” McDaniel said in a recent statement. “Over time, individuals feel less satisfied with their relationship as well as with the way their life is currently going. They may not even realize this is happening.”

The findings show that, at this point, some people may start using technology such as cell phones and tablets to escape their bad feelings - leading to the possibility of more technoference. Today Health's Meghan Holohan reports that women who reported technoference also said that they fight with their partners more.

“What I think the most important finding is, the more you let the technology interfere, the more conflict you have with your spouse or partner and that leads to not feeling great about the relationship,” Coyne said.

This study is not the first to suggest that cell phone usage is hurting our relationships, and ourselves. Earlier this week, redOrbit reported that cell phone use is degrading satisfaction with our daily leisure time.

In 2012, James A. Roberts, a professor of marketing at Baylor University Hankamer School of Business coined the term “phub” for when someone chooses to play with an app, text or make a phone call rather than pay attention to a person. “Essentially, what we are saying is that you don’t matter,” he said according to Holohan. “It touches at our core.”

Apparently, which technological device you use matters, and how you use it matters to relationship satisfaction as well. One study, published in the International Journal of Neurpsychotherapy, found that watching TV together brings a couple closer, while laptop use pushes them apart.

If couples have to text, Coyne’s earlier work suggests that the message should stay positive. A 2013 BYU study agrees, finding that serious conversations, apologies and disagreements conducted long-distance through texting does more harm to the relationship than the same interactions held face-to-face.


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