It turns out we no longer have to rely on the archaic practices of showing someone we’re annoyed with physical objects like slamming doors. You may already practice this method of showing your disinterest with someone by instead choosing to read (or pretend to read) something on your smartphone. Did you know this activity has an official name, though? It’s called phubbing and it’s all the rage.

Standard Operating Procedure

It hasn’t been all that long since people didn’t carry a smartphone or other smart device with them wherever they went. There have been pagers and PDAs, but neither of those forms of communication were as captivating as our beloved smartphones. It isn’t abnormal now to see either a group of friends conversing with one person typing away on a screen or even a couple eating dinner, both busy with something on their tablet. This wasn’t normal behavior 20 years ago, so a team of psychologists from the University of Kent set out to see what happened.

The team discovered that having the internet with us all of the time is what  is actually making us addicted to our smart devices. It’s this addiction to constantly unlock our phones to see what’s happening in our world that leads to an increased rate of phubbing. Phubbing, by the way, is a recognized term by meaning “to ignore (a person or one’s surroundings) when in a social situation by busying oneself with a phone or other mobile device.”  Because this behavior is happening more and more, fueled by our addiction, it’s simply considered normal.

Addicted To A Touchscreen

It’s not so much that we’re addicted to the actual screen, but what’s being presented on it. We are human beings, after all, and are a social group. We want to be included and know what’s going on with those we are closest to. The team at the university identified just that, a fear that you’re missing out on something, internet addiction, and just a plain lack of self-control as the driving forces behind smartphone addiction.

Our smartphone addiction is what has caused an increase in the occurrence of phubbing. We’ve all done it and sometimes we’re not even intentionally trying to be rude. We just want to read a text message a friend just sent or check into the restaurant we’re eating at so everyone knows what we’re eating. Since we’ve all phubbed someone else and experienced what phubbing feels like, it’s made us think that it’s normal behavior. You may have even noticed that when you’re out with someone and they stop to use their phone, you’re not as offended as you may have been a few years ago. This is because phubbing is normal behavior now, no different than someone pausing a conversation so that they can sneeze. Welcome to the tech age, everyone!


Do you find that you commit phubbing more often these days?




Kirstin Wright
Kirstin Wright
Kirstin is an IT worker by day and a freelance writer by night. When not behind a computer screen, she can be found exploring one of central Florida's famous theme parks or embarking on a new adventure. You can read about her adventures at Fun Orlando Ideas!