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As I was enjoying a rather fine cappuccino the other day, I noticed a family out for breakfast.

“How nice”, I thought.

But then I noticed that every single one of them was glued to an electronic device.

The parents toyed with their smartphones, the grumpy-looking teen was headphoned up to his iPod® and even the toddler was tucking into toast while watching Peppa Pig on an iPad®.

No one was talking or even looking at one another. This lovely family occasion had been totally eroded by the presence of technology.

So are smartphones ruining our reality and screwing with our social life?

And if they are, how many of us would be willing to ditch our devices and go cold turkey?

Now don’t get me wrong.

I love my smartphone, passionately.

It stops me getting lost, helps me pay my bills and keeps me in contact with friends far and wide. I’ve got an app that tracks my weight, one to manage my weekly shop and myriad awesome games to play.

But I also loathe the bloody thing.

I hate being connected and contactable all the time and I can’t help but check my social networks every 2 seconds. I tend to think of every lovely view as a potential Instagram picture and I’m over wasting hours playing Sudoku when I could be living life.

I’m also sick of those people (me) who check their phones in social situations and spend time texting when they should be talking. TO ME!

This hideous habit has even been given a name: Phubbing.

This phrase (which describes the act of snubbing someone in a social situation by looking at your phone instead of paying attention) was coined in May 2012. Ad agency, McCann, invited a number of lexicographers, authors, and poets to create a neologism to describe this behaviour for a campaign to promote the Macquarie dictionary. It even has its own website:

And it’s getting worse!

According to a recent Nielsen study, nearly 66% of homes with mobile phones have a smartphone (up 44% since 2011). The study also tells us that the average person spends around 34 hours, 17 minutes on their smartphone each month. Yes, that’s right; 34 hours EACH MONTH.

Just think of what you could be doing with all that phubbing time.

You could:

  • Learn a language or an instrument
  • Read a book or three
  • Catch up with 34 friends for an hour-long coffee each
  • Go to the gym every day for a month
  • Spend four days on your back just watching the clouds

OJapanese iphone duder you could end up like this Japanese blogger who queued up for the iPhone 6 seven months early, dressed as an iPhone.

In an attempt to cut down on my smartphone addiction my husband and I left our phones behind on a recent five-day holiday.

The first day I was anxious. The FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) was strong. I felt strange not being connected to my social media chums. I couldn’t check the time or the weather and had to resort to using real maps to get around.

By day two I felt calmer and more engaged with the world around me. On day three I was sleeping better, feeling happier and enjoying being in the moment. When day four came around, I’d have quite happily given up my smartphone for life, but on day five we returned to reality and we had to plug back in.

But I learned a lesson and now my smartphone is a ‘sometimes’ device, not an ‘all the time’ device.

So next time you’re out with your family and friends, how about keeping your smartphone in your pocket? Let’s all say “no” to the vile act of phubbing!

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