People who are phone snubbed – or “phubbed” – by others face higher levels of stress and depression, and turn to smartphones and social media to find acceptance, a study has found.
Researchers from Baylor University in the US found that the circle nearly completes itself as the offended parties frequently jump online to find affirmation in the likes and shares and positive comments of social media.
The study investigated the relationship between phubbing, social media attachment, depression, anxiety, and stress.
“When an individual is phubbed, he/she feels socially excluded, which leads to an increased need for attention. Instead of turning to face-to-face interaction to restore a sense of inclusion, study participants turned to social media to regain a sense of belonging,” said Meredith David, assistant professor at Baylor University.
“Being phubbed was also found to undermine an individual’s psychological well-being. Phubbed individuals reported higher levels of stress and depression,” said David, lead author of the study published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research.
“We are looking online for what we are not getting offline. It is a vicious cycle,” said James A Roberts, Professor at Baylor University.
As part of their study, researchers surveyed more than 330 people across two studies. They found that nearly half of those who were phubbed reported spending more than 1.5 hours on their phone each day.
In addition, one-quarter of those phubbed reported spending more than 90 minutes per day on social media sites.
More than one-third of phubbed individuals indicated that they turn to social media to interact with new people.
Over half of individuals who said they were phubbed indicated that social media enhances their life and makes their life better.
The majority reported that people’s comments on their social media posts make them feel affirmed and more accepted.
“Although the stated purpose of technology like smartphones is to help us connect with others, in this particular instance, it does not,” David said.
“Ironically, the very technology that was designed to bring humans closer together has isolated us from these very same people,” he said.
Roberts said this current research and the trends it identifies are troubling. “Our inability to separate from technology is devastating to our well-being. Even if it is not an addiction, it is a deeply ingrained habit,” he said.
To counter the negative effects of smartphone use, the researchers advise consumers to establish “smartphone-free” zones and times; establish social contracts (and penalties) regarding phone use with friends, family, and coworkers; and downloading apps that track, monitor, and control smartphone use.