Have you ever “phubbed” or been “phubbed”?

If you have, researchers from the Charles Sturt University are looking for your input into a new study.

Phubbing – phone snubbing – is the act of snubbing someone in a social setting by looking at your phone instead of paying attention to them.

It was first coined in 2012 as part of a marketing campaign for Australia’s Macquarie Dictionary.

Charles Sturt School of Computing, Mathematics and Engineering Associate Professor Yeslam Al-Saggaf and Charles Sturt School of Psychology Dr Rachel Hogg are conducting new research into the use of smartphones in social situations, and are looking for participants to complete an online survey.

The aim of the study is to investigate how smartphones are used in social settings and how this impacts a range of people.

Al-Saggaf said previous research has found that phubbing can negatively impact peoples’ satisfaction with life, the quality of their relationships, communication skills and can make the person being “phubbed” feel less valued as a person.

“Previous research has shown that the use of smartphones during face-to-face conversations, known as ‘phubbing’, is associated with detrimental effects,” Al-Saggaf said.

“This research is important not only because it will raise awareness about the detrimental effects associated with use of smartphones in social situations but also because it will consider effective strategies for addressing this problem.”

The practice of phubbing has also been found to lead to ostracism, loneliness, anxiety, depression, smartphone addiction, cyberbullying, lower self-evaluation and poor academic performance.

Hogg said the new research will also look at effective strategies to address the problem of phubbing.

“The ramifications of it may also change over time depending on phone etiquette and the perceived normalcy of the behaviour in different social settings, relationships and contexts,” Hogg said.

The researchers have launched two surveys, one for parents of one or more smartphone users and another for smartphone users aged 18 to 24 years old.

“Participation is voluntary, anonymous and involves completing a short survey that should take approximately 10 minutes to complete,” Hogg said.

The surveys will close at the end of November, with results expected to be published in the first quarter of 2023.

Research from 2018 found that the average person picks up and uses their smartphone 76 times each day, and this number has likely only increased.

The same researchers from Charles Sturt University completed a survey in 2018 investigating the behavioural patterns that lead to phubbing. The results showed that individuals mostly looked at their smartphones while having a face-to-face conversation with those closely related to them, such as their partner or close friend.

Participants also said they often look at their phone when having a conversation while commuting, and during work lunch breaks. The most common activities on smartphones while phubbing were reported as being using the internet, Facebook and checking emails.

According to a 2021 study, phubbing during conversations with your partner can be detrimental for your relationship, leading to feelings of exclusion, less perceived responsiveness and less intimacy.

The study found that involving your partner in your smartphone activity can help to mitigate these negative impacts.

“This means that by involving and informing a partner about one’s phone activities, it is possible to reduce feelings of exclusion, maintain more responsiveness and intimacy in the conversations, and consequently reduce detrimental relationship effects,” the study found.