During my spring break I went to Atlanta with a couple of friends. We found a great dim sum restaurant in Atlanta’s China Town. Dim sum is a style of Cantonese cuisine prepared as small bite-sized portions of food served in small plates, which allows guests to try more plates. The Chinese name of dim sum is “Zao Cha”, which means “tea in the morning”. So when I used to go to dim sum in China, it usually took hours to finish the whole meal, because lots of people treat it as a place to deal with business or to meet with old friends or family. People who go to dim sum usually enjoy the food, the companionship, and the opportunity for some quality time together.
So this was our goal for our time together too. While we were eating the yummy food, we talked and laughed. However, when I looked around the restaurant, to my surprise, almost all of the tables had at least one person looking at their phone. People had their heads buried in their phones, in front of such good food and companions! It made me sad!
Nowadays, technological devices have become more prevalent in our home and family lives. Because the technology is often in our pocket, it becomes so easy for us to reach it. Yes, the new technology provided so many great changes for us, such as having a map always accessible while traveling, being able to see our family thousands of miles away on video chats, and the option to finish shopping by just a few clicks. But because it’s so powerful, I wondered how the new technology influences our romantic relationships?
In one recent study, 70% of women said that cellphones, computers, or TV interfered in their relationship with their partner at least sometimes, if not often. Many women also said that the following specific interruptions happened at least daily:
- 62% said technology interferes with their leisure time together.
- 40% said their partner gets distracted by the TV during a conversation.
- 35% said their partner will pull out his phone if he receives a notification even if they are in the middle of a conversation.
- 33% said their partner checks his phone during mealtimes that they spend together.
- 25% said their partner actively texts other people during the couple’s face-to-face conversations.
Studies have shown that problematic use of cell phones or social networking sites is connected to greater depressive symptoms, less satisfaction with family life, and lower romantic relationship quality. Researchers note that the ever-present and always-on nature of cell phones interrupts face-to-face interactions, which are essential for connection to and knowledge about partners. It is difficult to have a meaningful conversation with, pay attention to, and truly listen to one’s partner when daily interactions are interrupted constantly by technology.
Take some time with your partner to sit and discuss if technology interferes with your relationship, if so, you may set some ground rules that you both agree on – and, especially for this conversation, put the cell phones away! J
McDaniel, B. T., & Coyne, S. M. (2016). “Technoference”: The interference of technology in couple relationships and implications for women’s personal and relational well-being. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 5(1), 85.