If you’ve ever felt like your partner is more interested in what’s happening on their smartphone than they are in having a conversation with you, chances are you’re not alone. According to findings from a nationwide survey undertaken by New Zealand telecommunications provider 2degrees, almost 40 per cent of New Zealanders surveyed are concerned their partners are spending too much time on their smartphones.
Not only do those surveyed believe their partner’s screen time is affecting the quality of their relationship, one in five reported feeling insignificant when their partners spend too much time on their mobiles. A mere 12 per cent of Kiwis surveyed said their partner’s excess smartphone usage doesn’t bother them all.
But it’s not just our romantic relationships that our smartphones are coming between. Many Kiwis believe their siblings (33 per cent) and best friends (27 per cent) also spend too much time on their mobile devices.
“Technology plays an integral role in the lives of most New Zealanders – it offers so much to enhance our lives. We’re connected and accessible so it’s easy to see why most of us have a smartphone in our pocket at all times,” says relationship expert Dr Anna Martin who is teaming up with 2degrees to explore what the results of the survey mean for Kiwis.
That being said, Martin adds that it’s becoming increasingly important that we are aware of the potential impact our smartphone usage is having on our loved ones. “Constant checking and scanning of messages can send a signal that what’s on the phone matters more than what’s in the room,” Martin says.
Time to Switch Off
So how do we maintain real connections with our loved ones in our always-on, always-connected culture? Taking time to switch off and focus on the present moment with our loved ones is important explains Martin. “While technology has an incredible array of benefits, real-life interactions remain key to maintaining a healthy relationship.”
For couples who think their smartphones are negatively impacting on their relationship, Martin advocates setting dedicated device-free time or spaces. Implementing a ‘no smartphones in bed’ rule is one of Martin’s favourite rules. “You’re really going to think twice about sending that text or answering that call if you know you have to get up and leave the room to do it,” says Martin.
2degrees CEO, Stewart Sherriff, says the company commissioned the research to dig deeper into the comments its staff experienced when talking with customers, friends and family about technology and communication. “Progress in the last decade has been phenomenal. When 2degrees launched, you could only use your mobile to call and text – it was too expensive for most people to use often anyway. Now, costs have plummeted, the capability of our technology has skyrocketed and with this comes new ways of communicating online and new challenges.”
Inspired by the survey’s findings, 2degrees has launched #GoodChat, an initiative to get Kiwis talking about how we communicate with each other and thinking about the role technology should play.
“It might seem unusual for a telco to suggest people ease off using their phones, but we went into this research knowing we might be confronted with some challenging findings. We’re hoping that #GoodChat will help people reflect on and improve how they communicate,” says Sherriff.
To hear Dr Martin’s advice about how to communicate positively and constructively with those closest to you, visit 2degrees.nz/goodchat