The overuse of smartphones can have a detrimental effect on people’s relationships, a new study suggests.
Interruptions caused by such devices, or “technoference”, can cause conflict between couples, even in small doses, researchers claimed. This can lead people to be less satisfied with their relationships and with their life overall. It can also increase the risk of depression.
Researchers interviewed 143 women who were in committed relationships. Seventy-three per cent of respondents agreed that smartphone use had a negative effect on their interactions with their partner.
Over a third said their partners checked their phones in the middle of a face-to-face conversation if they heard a notification, and a quarter said their partner would even start texting other people during those conversations.
Sarah Coyne from Brigham Young University in Utah was co-author of the study. She said the results were “a wake-up call” to her because it made her realise that she was sometimes guilty of such behaviour.
She added that “we can let these devices overrule our entire lives if we allow it”.
The research is the latest to analyse the increasing use of technology in everyday life. In 2012, a study found that two thirds of Brits will check their phones while out for a meal. Another study in the same year suggested that children were having more accidents because their parents were distracted by their smartphones.
The study will be published in the December edition of the scholarly journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture.