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Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

Parenting Tip #4



Phubbing. The act of snubbing someone in a social setting by looking at your phone instead of paying attention to them.

If you have a smart phone, chances are you were guilty of the act already. It’s also possible you’re doing it now while reading this article but we’ll excuse you just this once. Phubbing has become so natural to us that we do it unconsciously. The problem has become so bad in Australia that the New South Wales Government is installing traffic lights in the pavement so that pedestrians would notice a traffic light signal even with their heads buried in their phones!

More critically, studies have shown that phubbing can damage personal relationships and not only adult relationships but parent child relationships as well. Spouses and children feel as if they are competing for attention with a cellphone. This leads to a drop in relationship satisfaction and in some cases depression.


How to tell if you’ve been phubbing people close to you and if it is a potential problem in your relationships.

  • During a typical mealtime, I pull out and check my cellphone.
  • I place my cellphone where I can always see it. 
  • I keep my cellphone in my hand when I’m together with someone. 
  • When my cellphone rings or beeps, I immediately check it even if I am in the middle of a conversation.
  • I always glance at my cellphone when in a conversation with someone else.
  • When spending alone or intimate time with someone, I use or keep my cellphone nearby.
  • If there is a lull in conversation, I will check my cellphone.

The more you answer “yes” to the statements, the more likely phubbing is a potential problem in your relationship.

The need to look at and be engrossed in one’s phone can also be a form of Internet Addiction. Another term that has been derived that relates to the constant need to be online and checking your phone for the next notification, email or message.


So how can you stop phubbing?

While phubbing is a technology related issue, the solutions to stop it may not be technical at all. It is a personal matter that only the people involved can work towards solving. Here are some tips and tricks you can use to start the healing process.

  1. Manage your notifications. Review the notification settings for the apps that you used most on your phone and limit or turn them off. Some phones even have a ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature that turns off all notifications and even phone calls during pre-set periods.
  2. Set rules on where and when to use mobile devices. Phone use should not be allowed at the meal tables or when going out to a restaurant or even driving in the car, instead use it as a time to catch up on and improve your conversation techniques.
  3. When out with friends, put your phones face down on the table and the first to pick up their phone pays the bill.
  4. Avoid looking at your phone first thing when you get up.
  5. Don’t let your phone screen be the last thing you see before you sleep.

In the end, it’s all about moderation and a some digital detox. For a lighter side to the phubbing issue, check out the Stop Phubbing website It may help you or a friend in need.


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