ERP 011: How Technology Impacts Our Relationships

By Posted in - Podcast April 16th, 2015 2 Comments

Technological devices are a part of our lives. Most of us have smartphones and use them consistently throughout the day. They are impacting the quality of our relationships, our attention, and ability to be present.

Infographic on Mashable:

  • 80% of time on phones is in non-voice activities
  • 84% of people cannot go a single day without the use of their cell phone
  • 58% can’t go an hour without checking their phone
  • 95% of people use their phone right before going to bed

“Technoference”: technology interfering in relationship

@ Difei Li | Flickr

@ Difei Li | Flickr

Is techoference happening in your relationship? If so, do you think it is an issue? Do you think you and your partner can you improve the way you negotiate technology together?

  • Mashable: “A study showed that people who engaged in personal discussions when a cell phone was nearby — even if neither was actually using it — reported lower relationship quality and less trust for their partner.”
  • NPR: “70 percent of women in a recent survey said smartphones were interfering in their romantic relationship.”
  • NPR: “The study, published Monday in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture, says technology and the screens that consume us are creating “technoference” in couples. Here are 5 scenarios
    • Most common, seeing a partner pick up his phone during “couple leisure time,” with 62 percent of women reporting this happened at least once a day.
    • Forty percent of women said their men would get distracted by the TV during a conversation at least once a day
    • While a third said he would take out his phone in the middle of a conversation or during a meal together
    • A quarter said their partner would actually send texts or emails to another person while they were having a face-to-face conversation.
    • Checking Facebook while in the middle of an argument”
  • Other findings, the more conflict about technology within a relationship:
    • Lower relationship satisfaction
    • Lower life satisfaction
    • Increase for depression

Some people use technology:

  • As an escape mechanism or as an avoidance tool
  • To soothe stress
    @ Michael Coghlan | Flickr

    @ Michael Coghlan | Flickr

  • To be entertained
  • To seek connection
  • To gain information

Some partners feel:

  • Left out or “out of the loop”
  • Rejected
  • Ignored
  • Not important or a high priority

Here are some suggestions to consider:

1. Intentional Time: Making sure that you are your partner have quality and intentional time together.

In-Person Contact:

  • Smiling
  • Eye to eye
  • Skin to skin
  • Laughing
  • Hugging
  • Touching, etc.

Focused Time:

  • Undivided attention
  • Put phone out of reach and our of sight. Turn off ringers.
@ Stephen McCulloch | Flickr

@ Stephen McCulloch | Flickr

2. Boundaries: Would it be helpful to have any consistent boundaries or times that you would like to be without technology?

  • Greeting each other at the end of a work day
  • Dinner
  • Right before bed
  • At night

3. Agreements: Have clear and fair agreements about the use of technology for certain occasions, like a date night or vacations.

  • Tonight, let’s not be on our phones, except to check for messages from our babysitter
  • Trips and vacations
  • I would like to talk to you about this concern. Would you be willing to put down your phone?

4. Taking breaks: Do you have any time/s where you take an intention break from technology?

5. Communication: When you are using technology around your partner, do 04afc80c881706bfa0f783557561c676_650xyou communicate with him or her? Do you think it would be helpful to be more explicit at times (about what you are doing and how long you will be)?

  • I am working on this project, and I will be done in 30 mins.
  • If you want to spend time with your partner, asking for time without technology.
  • Call it out “hey, I call technoference”
  • Sonos: a wireless speaker system

Complete this quick survey for a chance to win a $250 gift card for a nice dinner out or a couples massage.

Thank you so much for being interested in improving your relationship. If you have a question that you would like me to answer, please leave me a voice message, by clicking on the “Ask Dr. Jessica Higgins” button here.

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Thank you!


(2) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Mary Massaro, MS, NCPsyA - Reply

    April 19, 2015 at 9:59 am

    Jessica, thank you for sharing your article.
    I would like to add that ALL my relationships have evolved and flourished because of technology…
    my husband is out of state for a month…thank goodness for texting, telephone time, emails etc.
    my grandchildren facetime with me from their homes and we chat up a storm!
    my adult children and their wives send photos, articles of interest from their iphones that keep us connected…
    What magic happens when techology is used appropriately to STAY CONNECTED!

    • Dr. Jessica Higgins - Reply

      April 19, 2015 at 3:44 pm

      Hi Mary,

      Thank you for your comment. I appreciate your sharing. Yes, technology allows for some very beautiful sharing that would not be otherwise possible.

      I am happy to hear about the connection you cultivate with your family! Very special.

      Wishing you all the best,

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