Otherwise known as “phone snubbing,” phubbing is what happens when you ignore your partner or your child to look at a text, tweet, ‘gram or other notification on your phone.
If we’re honest, we’ve all been guilty of the occasional phub-fest. But when the habit becomes ingrained, according to a new study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, phubbing can have a “significant” negative impact on relationships - and has the potential to seriously erode family communication and closeness.
The research strongly suggests that boundaries around device use may be just as important for adults as it is for kids. Possibly even more important. Because the behaviour you’re modelling for your children right now is setting up norms and values that may last a lifetime.
If you know, or suspect, that phubbing may be an issue for you - congratulations. It’s true what they say: admitting you have a problem is half the battle.
As for the other half, why not consider some simple strategies that have been Dad-tested and -approved?
- Turn off notifications. It’s easy to put your phone in “Do Not Disturb” mode on iOS or Android devices - and you can even make exceptions for critical contacts (calls from your partner or your child’s school, say).
- Download “Moments”. This is an iOS app that will tell you exactly how much time you’re spending on your phone. (For Android, try “QualityTime”.) Once the initial shock subsides, set a benchmark and start “working out” to improve your stats.
- Get a “dumb phone” that will only allow you to talk and text. Chances are good you work in front of screen all day. Do you really need to be online for the remaining 16 hours?
- Experiment with a weekly “digital sabbath”. Unplugging on Friday night through to noon on Saturday is a simple strategy that works for many dads.
- Don’t take your phone to bed. You’re a big boy now - you can charge it in the kitchen, and buy an alarm clock. The impact on your relationship will be immediate, and amazing. Enough said?
- Use parental controls. OK, this is a little weird - but why should kids get all the benefits of boundaries? Granted, you probably won’t want to filter the content you can access. But setting a “bedtime” for the internet - or maybe blocking out school mornings - has helped many dads make phubbing history.
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