It was only 10 years ago when Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone. Nobody can deny its impact on our world since, in ways we never imagined. Look at all the things the iPhone and other smartphones have replaced - simple items such as the calculator, clock and flashlight. And many more that it has not just replaced but significantly improved, such as calendars, maps and cameras. For many people, it has even replaced their need for a computer. It’s incredible to think that we now carry all this utility around in a device so small it fits in a pocket. No wonder we find it so convenient and invaluable. One would think that everything is better on a smartphone but it’s not. No matter how amazing technology is, it can be more of a hindrance than a blessing for relationships.
If you go through life with your eyes glued to your smartphone, you will fail to notice opportunities to connect with people around you. This article illustrates how putting your phone away can lead to conversations you would miss otherwise. If you’re looking for a relationship of the romantic kind, you should know that your phone can be a turn-off. This study by Plenty of Fish was conducted across 2,000 people of all genders and ages, from 17 to 80+. The number one deal breaker on a date, according to 19% of those surveyed, is someone looking down at their phone. Better to put it away if you want to give serendipity or love a chance.
When it comes to existing relationships, I can’t deny the benefits smartphones offer for staying in touch, especially with those far away. I was thankful for my iPhone when one of my closest friends moved to another continent years ago. Facetime, Whatsapp, Facebook and email have kept us more in tune with each other’s lives than telephone and snail mail could. But our friendship became what it is over years of time spent together, in-person. It wouldn’t be what it is today if it had developed solely online.
Not only is it impossible to build deep relationships through smartphones alone, they also can have a negative impact on a relationship. Phubbing is a term used for snubbing others while in their company because you’re on your phone or other device. Though now a common behavior, it is inconsiderate and scientifically proven to weaken relationships. In addition, research shows that being phubbed can decrease peoples’ emotional well-being by increasing their levels of stress and depression. I don’t think anyone would consciously choose to do that to family or friends but they are, frequently.
That tiny feeling of guilt that kicks in when you are focused on your phone around someone you care about is something you should pay attention to. Spending time together in person and connecting in a profound way is what builds deep relationships - the type of relationship that can last for years, withstanding the ups and downs of life. So, go ahead and enjoy the benefits your smartphone offers. But remember to put it down often enough and long enough to start, grow and cherish the relationships in your life. As wonderful as your device is, it is replaceable - what you have with your spouse, child, friend, parent and others, is not.
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