What Is Phubbing? & Is It Really Harmful?

Smartphone Addiction is another rising issue in the world that needs our attention. You might laugh and deny that why someone would call staring at the screen an addiction, but trust us it is! Well, not everyone who is staring at the screen is an addict, some are just simply trying to avoid a real conversation or a topic being discussed. So, to differentiate between Smartphone addicts and the one who pretends to be one gave a push to coin a new terminology, Phubbing!


Let’s know more about Phubbing and how it affects our mental health, relationships and why it is different yet a part of Smartphone addiction.



The word Phubbing came into being in 2012. The word is a combination of “Phone” and “Snubbing.” It typically defines a behavior of a person who prefers to stare at the screen of their mobile phones in a social situation and ignores people around.


i wish i was there

Whether you notice or not, you must have been phubbed by people more than once. Well, it might have happened while talking to your brother about your work, talking to your partner about an important issue and they unlock their phone to check something and dive into the big dark hole of Facebook or another social media app. It might not always be deliberate, sometimes, it could be very important, Although, due to this interruption, conversations don’t go further and eventually you stop talking about it as you notice, it is not a two-way conversation.

This has become a daily episode in people’s lives. It might look innocuous but it is not! First, it annoys the person talking to you. Furthermore, the long-term effect is, it ruins your relationships with people around you.

Don’t you think technology, and social media platforms’ development purpose was to connect people around the world? However, it seems that the plan has backfired and now wallowing into the digital world is isolating people.

According to the various researchers, phubbing should be taken seriously and as the consequences of it seems to be hazardous for one’s mental health and relationships.


While in a social situation if you use your smartphone in any of the below ways, it indicates you are Phubbing:

  • Glancing at your phone while being in a one-on-one conversation.
  • Checking your phone while in a conversation
  • Answer your phone while in a conversation with someone physically present there.
  • Posting photos online.
  • Checking your social media feeds.
  • Texting people or playing games

It is one of the syndromes of Smartphone addiction. It shows how much people are taking interest in the virtual world rather than real-life conversation. It is common in both teens as well as adults.

The phubber might not realize that by stalling the conversation and ignoring people around can hurt the person who is in face to face conversation with that him/her. The person in contact might feel that the phubber doesn’t think that he/she is important to have a conversation with, therefore deteriorating the relation.


1. You Are Less Indulged In Real-life Conversation

You Are Less Indulged In Real-life Conversation

It is a proven fact that Phone snubbing or Phubbing can distract the person talking to you, leaving the conversation meaningless. Imagine you are in a middle of an important discussion with your friend, suddenly he starts scrolling down his Instagram feed or pick up a call, would you be able to continue the conversation with the same zeal? According to a paper published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, people who were asked to imagine a scenario where they are being phubbed while watching a mock-up conversation, gave a negative reaction, then those who didn’t picture it. Moreover, conversations wherein a person is staring at the screen of his smartphone has proven to be less satisfying for the other person indulged.

2. Mental Health & Relationships Suffer

Mental Health & Relationships Suffer

Phubbing can make the phubbed person excluded but also distant him or her from the phubber. It directly impacts their self-esteem, control, the feeling of closeness or intimacy, conversation quality, their very existence in phubber’s life. No matter what relationship the phubber and phubbed share, it can ruin it. One of the studies showed that if your spouse or both of you phub each other, it will lower the level of marital satisfaction.


Doing that to your life partner shows that you are demeaning them and the moment of your togetherness, which can lead to a conspicuous change in behavior towards each other.

Phubbing could also cause depression due to low satisfaction level in both life and at relationship end.

3. The Quality Of Interactions Decrease

The Quality Of Interactions Decrease

A conversation where a smartphone is not near people happen to be more fruitful and less distracting as compared to the ones with cell phones. According to some studies, the mere presence of your cell phone can decrease the quality of conversation, lower connection, and closeness between people.

Trust us on this, if you want to talk about something important and want the phubber to listen to it, keep the smartphone away from his or her near vicinity. Then the conversation would be healthier and better in quality.

4. Induces Smartphone Overuse

Induces Smartphone Overuse

Nobody likes to get ignored or ostracized if you ignore someone, soon or later they will do the same. Similarly, if you phub someone, they will start doing the same, this will increase their smartphone usage. Apparently, they would start using social media more.

Brain-imaging research shows that the feeling of being excluded recorded as actual physical pain in the brain. So to ease the pain and to regain the sense of being included, the phubbed starts using their phones in all sort of ways.

5 . Nothing Good Comes Out Of It

Until now, you must be feeling bad for phubbed, it is shocking but true that it affects phubber too. A study supports this theory as when people were asked to use their phones while spending time and having dinner with family and friends felt less satisfied and enjoyed less than the people who didn’t use smartphones being in the same situation. Phubbing can affect your social behavior too. Sometimes, when you are busy staring at your phone’s screen while sitting with your family and someone suddenly asks you a question or ask you to pay attention, you would give an impolite response or care less.

That’s why it is said, technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master! As long as you are in control, everything works fine but if you let technology dominate and steer the way, it could be hazardous.



The first thing to do when you are trying to stop or control something is to address the issue. The phubber needs to accept that he snubs. Then comes the next step, solution: Controlling the habit or stopping it altogether.

  • Making stringent technology rules such as putting your phone away when on the dinner table, or keeping your phone silent when in an important conversation and following them as well.
  • Practice meditation and mindfulness to regain attention and concentration in the real world
  • The people who are being phubbed needs to play a role and be patient. They need to tell the phubber about what he/she is doing.

In most of the cases, the phubber is not trying to offend you but they are looking for a sense of inclusion for themselves. So, stop for a minute and think what could have gone wrong. Well, both phubber and phubbed are looking for inclusion, whether it is real world or virtual world.

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