‘Phubbing’ is the new term used to describe ‘ignoring people near you in favour of your smartphone’, which has been creating fissures in relations. Experts have asked families to “give considerable time for familial relations as it will lead to broken relationships”. Globally, the phenomenon has been the major reason for discontent leading to breaking of families. “Phubbing can lead to dissatisfaction among family members resulting in strained relationships and other social anomalies,” says Dr Amira al Raidan, Senior Medical Officer, Addiction Unit, Al Massarah Mental Hospital.
“Getting addicted to a smartphone while ignoring other members of family is the reason for major issues in families; kids can go astray if considerable time is not devoted to them,” Dr Amira, the key force behind many awareness campaigns and workshops for universities, colleges, schoolchildren, government sectors and the private sector, has said. Dr Mohammad Younis, a rehabilitation specialist, says ignoring the person sitting next to you or talking to you is against cultural etiquettes and religious beliefs.
“Religion teaches us a lot of etiquettes and how to treat both elders and youngsters. When we sit with someone, we should give full attention and look at their eyes while talking,” Dr Younis said. It was TV that distracted us from people around us earlier. Now, it’s the phones. “One of the major issues of addiction to technology is separation and isolation. Although it connects us with the rest of the world, it’s disconnecting us from our dear ones. We don’t know who lives two doors away. We don’t even know if a disaster happens unless someone posts it on social media.” “Phubbing makes you feel less connected,” says Dr Dilip Singhvi, Medical Director, Apollo Hospital Muscat.
“Studies have shown phubbing makes face-to-face interactions less meaningful. A paper published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology found that even people who imagined they were being phubbed while viewing a simulated conversation felt more negatively about the interaction than people who didn’t picture phubbing,” he said. Similarly, when spouses ‘phub’ each other, they’re more likely to experience depression and lower marital satisfaction. “If one’s life partner is on the phone, it indicates he or she is prioritising something else and that really hurts. This has been a major reason behind many cases that come to me,” said Dr Singhvi, who is also a relationship expert.