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PROVO — Have you ever focused on your phone instead of your romantic partner, even if they are right there with you?
If you have, then you aren’t in the minority. According to a new study from Brigham Young University, 74 percent of women surveyed reported thinking cellphones “detract from their interactions with their spouse or partner.”
Researchers dubbed the trend “technoference” and said it is linked to more conflict about technology, lower relationship quality, a higher risk of depression and lower life satisfaction.
“It’s a wake-up call to me because I realized I’m doing this too,” study author Sarah Coyne said in a statement. “That’s insane to say that as a professional who researches this, but we can let these devices overrule our entire lives if we allow it.”
In particular, 62 percent of the 143 women surveyed reported that technology interferes with the couple’s free-time together, 35 percent said their partner would pull out a phone mid-conversation if they received a notification, and 25 percent said their partner would actively text others while they were having a face-to-face conversation.
“This is likely a circular process that people become trapped in where allowing technology to interfere, even in small ways, in one's relationship at least sometimes causes conflict, which can begin to slowly erode the quality of their relationship,” said co-author Brandon T. McDaniel, who studied at BYU before attending Pennsylvania State University to obtain a Ph.D. “Over time, individuals feel less satisfied with their relationship as well as with the way their life is currently going. They may not even realize this is happening.”
Coyne suggested couples put their phones on silent or provide an explanation when they need to check something important.
The study was published in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture Monday.