Addiction is one of the most challenging situations for couples, and cases of cell phone addiction are not rare. The average smartphone user checks their device 47 times a day or 17,155 times each year.
Believe it or not, there is an official name for smartphone addiction. The fear of being without your smartphone is Nomophobia and here are some scary statistics about it.
(Stats from https://www.bankmycell.com/blog/smartphone-addiction/ )
- The average time spent on smartphones is 171 minutes a day (2 hrs 51 mins).
- If you add time on tablets into that, the total is 261 minutes a day (4 hrs 33 mins).
- The top five social media apps take up 76 minutes of our days (1 hr 16 mins).
- The average user will tap, swipe, click their phone 2,617 times a day!
And those are just average users! That means that those among us who are smartphone addicts must be spending much more time than that.
That much time spent on devices can cause some serious problems in your relationships, especially those with your spouse and your kids.
When you are on your cell phone, you cannot be fully present with the other person due to the constant distractions. Paying attention to your phone while you are with your spouse can cause them to feel dismissed or unappreciated, which can lead to serious marital issues.
Smartphones are conversations killers. In a recent survey, 85% of smartphone users admitted to checking their phones while they are talking to other people in person. This phenomenon is “phubbing,” or the snubbing of a person to verify your phone.
Marriages can be put under severe strain when one partner feels phubbed. There’s a name for that too, Partner Phubbing or Pphubbing for short.
A recent study (the results of which can be seen at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0747563215300704) showed that 46% of those who responded to a survey had experienced Pphubbing or Partner Phubbing. Twenty-three percent admitted that it has caused arguments and about 33% felt depressed because of the Pphubbing.
So if you or your spouse is so engrossed in the digital world that the other feels neglected, it’s time to take some action.
Does you or your spouse have a cell phone addiction?
Here are some signs you may notice in your spouse, or yourself, that indicate addiction is a genuine possibility.
- Ignoring your spouse or not hearing what they say because you are paying too much attention to your phone.
- Other people, besides just your spouse, notice that you spend a lot of time with it.
- You are phubbing people by looking at social media or texting while they are trying to have a conversation with you
- If you check your phone while talking to someone, you don’t use common courtesy and say excuse me beforehand or apologize when you finish.
- You get easily bored and feel anxious if you can’t check your phone.
- You have separation anxiety when you don’t have your phone with you.
- The things you see on the screen cause stress because you are comparing yourself to others, or reading messages from work make you cranky.
- Your partner feels rejected, and feelings of resentment begin to surface.
- Your sex life is suffering because screen time takes time away from time you could be spending cuddling, kissing, and being intimate. Some people even admit to checking phone WHILE getting intimate with their spouse! YIKES!
- You use as a shield when people talk about serious issues or at times when there is an awkward silence.
- Cell phone use is one of the main reasons you fight.
- You spend more time communicating online than with the person in the room with you.
- If you realize you are placing relationships and employment in jeopardy due to your addiction.
How do we fix this?
Remember that smartphone addiction has many similarities to any other kind of addiction, so it’s not an easy task to just put the phone down. Forty-seven percent of smartphone users have attempted to limit the amount of time they spend on their devices, but only 30% of those people believe they succeeded.
How can I bring this up?
If your spouse has the problem, the best way to deal with it is to have an open and honest conversation about what is going on and how it makes you feel. When you let them know the truth about how their addiction is affecting you, many spouses will want to make changes.
When discussing the issue, make a point to find out the real reason for their excessive cell phone use. Is your spouse upset with you about something, and therefore trying to avoid talking to you? Are they just bored with your relationship? Do they even realize they are doing it?
You want to create a caring and positive atmosphere in which to have this discussion. Don’t put your spouse down or blame them for all your problems. Discuss it calmly. And don’t try to have this discussion while they are using their phone! Prepare for it and choose a time when you can have their full attention.
Other ways to get their attention
Another way to help your spouse recognize they may have a problem with their cell phone that is affecting your relationship is to set an example of what you want them to do by doing it yourself. Reduce your own phone time using some of the ideas that are listed later in this article. And let them know that you are doing it because you love them and want to spend more quality time with them.
Get up close and personal. The reactions our bodies have to cell phone use are the same reactions it has when we have actual human contact. So, level up your intimacy game. Give more hugs, kisses, touches, and set time aside for sex. Show them that being with you is better than with an impersonal screen.
What if it’s you that’s addicted?
Like any addiction, going cold turkey may not be the best way to go. Instead, wean yourself off of phone time.
Out of 18-29-year-old smartphone owners surveyed, 22% check their phone every few minutes, 51% check a few times an hour. If you are checking your phone every five minutes (or even more often) challenge yourself to wait at least an hour before rechecking it.
If you seem to use your phone excessively to alleviate boredom, use that time to focus on other activities. Instead of just scrolling randomly on Facebook, try taking up a new hobby, going to the gym, or planning a night out to reconnect with those you’ve been ignoring.
Set Boundaries for Cell Phone Use
It’s easier to solve problems in marriage when both partners agree to something, and they both dedicate themselves to thinking about the issue differently.
One of our seven marriage success mindsets is showing that your spouse is a priority in your life. Remember this and reset your thoughts so you will reach out to them first for what you need before you go grabbing the cell phone for mindless entertainment. Like all mindsets, it takes time, but you can do it. Setting boundaries for cell phone use in your house will help you reprogram your mind and lessen your addiction.
Technology Free Times
Set up Technology-free times. Decide that neither of you will use your phones in the hour leading up to bedtime. Looking at your tablet, phone or laptop before bed can impact the quality of sleep you get anyway.
Schedule times for checking your phone’s notifications, or set a certain amount of time where you can play your favorite games. Since social media is a leading cause of smartphone addiction, try deleting the apps from your phone.
Technology Free Spaces
Designate technology free spaces in your home. Keep phones out of the bedroom and leave them in another room during mealtimes. To make this easier, set up a charging station for your phones in an inconvenient spot. An example of a good place would be on a high shelf. When it is time for bed, dinner, or family time, your phone will be out of sight, reducing your distractions. And it’s charging at the same time! It’s a win-win.
If you have a separate work phone, try keeping it in the car. When you get home from work, make one final check for important messages, emails to return, or documents to review. Then leave the cell phone there, and go inside ready to spend time with your spouse and family.
Let your phone help you break the addiction! Because of the recent focus on cell phone addiction, companies like Apple and Google have developed ways for you to keep track of and limit your time spent on them. There are also third-party apps that will do this for you like Moment, Offtime, and BreakFree.
Cell phone addiction is rampant in today’s society, but God doesn’t want us to follow after the world. He wants us to set ourselves apart and work to lead those in our family as well as those around us to Christ. Can you do that with your eyes glued to a cell phone?
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how his ways will really satisfy you. Romans 12:2 (TLB)
Can we help you?
Do you recognize yourself or your spouse in what we talked about today? If you would like to create an agreed upon set of boundaries for cell phones in your home, fill out the form below and you will receive our free #NoPhubbing contract. Decide what you want to do to decrease cell phone use and increase relationship satisfaction and make it official using this document.
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You can overcome cell phone addiction with dedication and support. We can help. If you would like us to coach your marriage through the effects of smartphone addiction, apply for a FREE 30-minute coaching session with us to get started!