Smartphones have infiltrated every facet of our daily lives. While it was once common to go to a restaurant to visit with friends over a shared meal, today you’ll regularly see people ignoring their dining companions in favor of posting amateur #foodporn on Instagram, tweeting about their wait staff, or sharing memes via Facebook.
The practice of ignoring social companions is referred to as “phubbing,” and many experts believe it is a form of Internet addiction. According to new research from psychologists at the University of Kent, society’s growing obsession with smartphones has led people to experience being “phubbed” in social situations so often that they have normalized this rude behavior.
Is Internet Addiction Real?
Internet addiction doesn’t have a biological basis like drug or alcohol addiction. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t create real problems. An inability to set reasonable limits on the time one spends online or interfacing with devices is evidence of an impulse control disorder similar to pathological gambling. Varoth Chotpitayasunondh and Professor Karen Douglas from the University of Kent School of Psychology say “phubbing” is associated with a fear of missing out—as well as a general lack of self-control.
Like drug and alcohol addiction, an obsession with remaining connected to the Internet at all times can create problems with interpersonal relationships. Physical symptoms such as carpal tunnel syndrome, backache, headache, and difficulty sleeping are also associated with excessive Internet use.
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