Phubbing is an Uncool Norm: 3 Simple Strategies to be More Present with Others

Picture this: you are sitting at dinner with your friends after a long day of classes, when all of a sudden you look up and everyone at the table is staring at their phones – not talking. Everyone is ignoring one another to consume whatever is on their device.  The digital wellness community refers to this phenomenon as phubbing.

Phubbing is defined by the Digital Wellness Institute as, “the practice of ignoring one’s companion(s), in order to pay attention to one’s phone or other mobile device.”

If you find yourself doing this frequently throughout the day, you are not alone. Studies show that 48% of people report phubbing others 2-3 times or more per day. And 56% indicate that they are phubbed 2-3 times or more per day.

Phubbing has a negative impact on our relationships and even our mental health, with phubbing causing feelings of exclusion and rejection. Phubbing causes us to have less meaningful conversations with others and those who phub come off as less polite and attentive.

While our phones are a great social tool to connect with others who are not physically nearby, technology is putting a divide in the face-to-face interactions we have with others. And we are normalizing it in our community.

To make a change for more meaningful relationships, conversations and overall interactions. Prioritize these three easy steps in your daily routine.

  1. Practice mindfulness. A lot of people assume mindfulness is just meditation, but it is so much more than that! We all have the opportunity to move through our day mindfully. This means paying attention and being fully present in the moment with ourselves and others aka not checking our phone in the middle of a conversation. Embrace all of your senses and really take notice of your surrounding environment: who is with you, what are you hearing, seeing, etc. what are your emotions in this moment?
  2. Set technology free boundaries with friends and family. When getting together with family and friends, vocalize that you would like this to be a technology free hang out. If necessary, put phones in another room to focus on spending quality time with one another.
  3. Call out phubbing when you see it and apologize when you do it. Tell your family and friends that you are making the conscious effort to be more present in your interactions. Call them out when they are on their phones and tell them to do the same to you! If you notice yourself phubbing, no need to be hard on yourself, apologize and do better moving forward.

Set this goal, enjoy the memories you are making rather than focusing on the instagrammable moments or what others are doing. Be more present in your interactions and celebrate the positive impacts it has on your relationships, conversations, and overall interactions.

If you feel like you need help separating yourself from your devices, seek help at one of the many support resources on campus. For mild or moderate concerns visit the Student Life Student Wellness Center’s Wellness Coaching program or for more severe concerns visit a team member at Counseling and Consultation Service.


Digital Wellness Institute

-Jordan Helcbergier, Wellness Coordinator

You, Me, and Technology: How to Navigate the Uninvited 3rd Wheel in Our Relationships

Technology has brought about amazing tools to connect and foster relationships with those who are not physically nearby. With so many new options for communication such as text messaging, email, social media and video calls, you have the opportunity to connect with people all over the world.

The advancement of technology has undoubtedly provided benefits to how we start and sustain our interpersonal relationships.

Technology is quickly becoming the norm in how a lot of our relationships begin. According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, 1 in 5 relationships and 1 in 6 marriages begin online. With nearly 8,000 dating sites in the world, it is easy to see how this number will only continue to grow.

Friendships, romantic relationships, even how you interact with your family has shifted and changed because of the presence of technology. Our interactions now are vastly different than those even just 20 years ago.

With this change in interaction and communication, there must also be a change in how we approach our relationships. Technology plays a role and, unfortunately, for some, it can cause conflict and divide. The amount of social media use, how much is being shared online, and jealousy can all create problems within a relationship.

One issue technology can create is distance in relationships. Whether you are not having deep conversations face to face or are choosing to hide behind a text to express feelings, neither is beneficial in developing a relationship built on open communication and honesty.

By communicating expectations and setting clear boundaries, you can create a more supportive environment for your relationship to thrive. Some examples of topics to discuss and boundaries to potentially put in place:

  • Putting the devices away at mealtime.
  • Setting clear expectations for how public or private do you want to be online.
  • Exploring instances of jealousy – if you feel drawn to checking in on your partners social media and feel jealous of their interactions. Explore where your insecurities are and communicate your needs to your partner.
  • Leaving your phones in another room when going to bed
  • Allocating certain times throughout the day to be ‘phone-free time’ – phone free dates is also a great idea!
  • Don’t get out your phone from your pocket/backpack/bag as soon as you get to your destination. If it never leaves your bag there is less
  • temptation to look at it. Exception here – if you are letting someone know you arrived safely, but then put it away!

When you are sitting on your devices instead of interacting, you are not enjoying shared experiences which can help to foster and build relationships. To remedy this, find activities to enjoy together, i.e. instead of playing games on your devices while sitting in the same room, get out a board game and play together. This is just one example, there are lots of opportunities to enjoy a shared experience on campus. Visit the Student Activities website to view their events calendar and plan your tech-free date/hang out for spring semester!

Ohio State, including Student Life Counseling and Consultation Service, has relationship related resources.

-Jordan Helcbergier, Wellness Coordinator

Photo by Jo McCulty