To Phub or Not to Phub: The Impact of Smartphone Usage during Social Interactions

New findings highlight the effects of using smartphones together and coping strategies.

Blogpost written by Tamás Lukács and Tianci Chen


  • Being on your phone during social interactions affects everyone involved negatively
  • Using phones together promotes bonding between each other
  • The way we address issues related to smartphone usage during social interactions also plays an important role

We all know the feeling of being phubbed – being ignored because someone else is immersed with their smartphone during a conversation: We feel excluded and might even question if we are worth their time. But what about our own smartphone engagements during social interactions or using a smartphone together? And are there ways we can address these issues to moderate our feelings when we are being phubbed?

Previous studies showed that phubbing occurs in a large portion of our daily conversations, however the exact effects on our social relationships still haven’t been fully explored. To find out more about this, a recent survey with 840 young adult smartphone users unraveled the effects of phubbing, i.e. ignoring someone else by engaging with our smartphone, being phubbed and co-use, i.e. watching a video together on a smartphone, on perceived friendship satisfaction and social isolation.

Being Phubbed and Phubbing

As expected, being phubbed leads to a decrease in friendship satisfaction (-12%) and increases feelings of social isolation (28%), which can result in a psychological distance that may impact your individual mental well-being.

But beware that feelings of social isolation were also evoked through engaging in phubbing yourself (19%). This could be due to feeling less included through engaging with your smartphone instead of with your friends and goes hand-in-hand with the concept of absent presence, i.e. physically being there but your mind being somewhere else, namely on your smartphone.

However and contrary to popular belief, the study uncovered that phubbing didn’t directly impact your perception of friendship satisfaction. The reason could be the omnipresence of smartphones. This means that users are already able to communicate effectively while engaging with their smartphones or smartphone usage is already expected within close- friendship social settings and thus doesn’t affect friendship satisfaction.

Using a Smartphone Together

The survey also included questions about the mutual use of smartphones in social settings as there hasn’t been much research done about the effects of using your smartphone as a means for social interaction, such as watching a video together. The results indicate a positive effect on friendship satisfaction (52%) and participants perceiving being less socially isolated (-14%). So why not show your friend the funny dog videos you are watching anyway during the time you spend together?

“Hey, talk to me!”

The survey suggests that coping strategies, i.e. the way you deal with being phubbed, might ease the burden of being phubbed on your perceived friendship satisfaction and social isolation. Coping strategies can be direct , i.e. expressing that you would like your friend to get off their smartphone, or avoidant, i.e. mirroring behavior and scrolling through social media yourself.

The authors found that direct coping strategies helped to reduce the negative effects of being phubbed on friendship satisfaction (6%). The impact was smaller for those less likely to make use of such means. However, the effect was insignificant for participants that were more likely to use direct coping strategies.

On the other hand, avoidant coping strategies strengthened the link between being phubbed and perceived social isolation (6%). It was also the more favored coping strategy among the young adults. Both findings indicate that it might be worth reminding your friends, once in a while, that they are supposed to be spending time with you and not with their smartphones.

Final Thoughts

It is difficult to navigate through the high seas of social interactions in our time of constant interconnectedness through our smartphones. But given these findings, the authors provide some practical suggestions for handling smartphone usage in live conversations. Firstly, addressing the issue with our conversation partner is crucial, as avoiding it only promotes social isolation. Minimizing phone-related distractions, i.e. muting calls and notifications, discussing clear boundaries for smartphone use, and encouraging joint smartphone activities are also among the recommendations.

When we find our partner’s phubbing behavior annoying it is also best to address the issue directly rather than avoiding talking about it or looking at the smartphone ourselves. If we must use our smartphones however, it is best to include the other person somehow, if we are only looking at funny dog videos anyway. These tips might mitigate disruptions in our conversations.

Knowing all these, of course, won’t solve every phubbing-related misunderstanding with your friends or partner; however, hopefully, now you have the tools to navigate these situations better and engage in more connected conversations in your friendships.



Stevic, A., & Matthes, J. (2023). Co-present smartphone use, friendship satisfaction, and social isolation: The role of coping strategies. Computers in Human Behavior, 149, 107960.

Swipe & Spill: How Do Women Master the Rejection Tango on Bumble?

Blogpost written by Beyza Çay and Neetu Kanwal 


  • Ghosting to avoid awkward endings: Many women on Bumble choose to stop talking without explaining to avoid uncomfortable goodbyes.
  • Talking on Bumble can deepen understanding: Continuing to talk can help people know more about each other, even if a Bumble conversation ends in rejection.
  • Risk of feeling drained in online dating: People who use Bumble a lot might find it tiring, and they may not share more than they would in face-to-face conversations.

In the era of digital romance, dating apps have become a part of the modern journey of quest for love. As the second-most popular dating app in the United States, with over five million users, Bumble plays a significant role in reshaping traditional dating norms. It is called a “feminist dating app” empowering women to take the initiative. However, as more people embrace dating apps it becomes important to understand how users navigate rejecting partners. This study, conducted by Audrey Halversen, Jesse King, and Lauren Silva, delves into the largely unexplored realm of how female Bumble users navigate rejection strategies online.

Image by Freepik on Freepik.

The research suggests that as the number and length of messages exchanged increases, people tend to share more personal information about themselves, a phenomenon known as self-disclosure. Additionally, it explores whether the amount of personal information a person shares affects their communication patterns and other person’s willingness to share more about themselves. It tries to prove that using Bumble frequently encourages users to open up more and offers higher chance to find a long-term partner through the app.

Ghosting Trend on Bumble

The study sheds light on women’s rejection strategies on Bumble with a focus on „ghosting.“ Ghosting refers to ceasing communication without providing an explanation and emerges as a method of rejection on the app. This aligns with the nature of relationships begin on platforms where connections are often in their early stages and users may choose to ignore others because it is easy, and relationships can be temporary.

For the purpose of answering the research questions, 384 women who recently have rejected a Bumble match whom they had exchanged messages with but had not met in-person were recruited to take part in a scale-based online survey with the focus of seven key measurements.

Understanding Women’s Rejection Tactics

As the study unfolds, a compelling pattern emerges regarding how female Bumble users handle rejection. 90% of women prefer to reject their partners by different forms of ghosting such as sudden ghosting, deleting their online profile, unmatching the person, and becoming less and less available over time. While different ways of ghosting are commonly preferred among women, being upfront about their decision and confronting the match ranks at the bottom.

As suggested, study proves that when women exchange a greater number of messages and have a longer communication with their match, they tend to reveal more about themselves. Self-disclosure increases, so does the likelihood of finding a potential partner. As women share more about themselves, their perceived disclosure from their match also increases. Thus, it becomes more and more stressful to reject this person. Yet, how do all these factors affect the various ways these women handle rejection? Those with higher levels of self-disclosure, perceived partner disclosure, and stress of rejecting their match prefer to disappear from the platform altogether. They choose to ghost by deleting their accounts and leaving their rejected match with only the label „Deleted Account“. This not only shows disinterest towards the match but also online dating in general. In contrast, those with lower self-disclosure levels prefer to ghost by simply unmatching. This way, the rejector’s profile disappears from the rejectee’s conversation list, displaying a lack of interest while keeping their online profile for potential matches.

Effects of Ghosting on Others

The study reveals that unmatching is a more common strategy than deleting accounts, suggesting that many users continue to online-date on Bumble after rejecting a match. While unmatching is less direct, it lacks the closure that an open and honest rejection might provide.

Other rejection strategies mentioned are „sudden ghosting“ without unmatching and „slow fading“. In both scenarios, the rejector’s profile remains visible, suggesting the possibility of future interaction. Some women may use these tactics to minimize the emotional impact on the rejectee, showing empathy and potentially easing their own feelings of rejection guilt.

On the other hand, confronting a match, being open about the rejection and its reasons is the least favored strategy. Only factor that is positively associated with confrontation is age. Women tend to reject their match by being open and upfront as they get older, challenging the trend of preferring non-confrontational methods.

This study shows that women often use ghosting on Bumble to end early relationships without confrontation. Despite rejection, continued Bumble communication fosters mutual self-disclosure. Additionally, frequent online dating may lead to communication burnout, limiting disclosure compared to face-to-face interactions.



Halversen, A., King, J., & Silva, L. (2021). Reciprocal self-disclosure and rejection strategies on bumble. In Journal of Social and Personal Relationships (Vol. 39, Issue 5, pp. 1324–1343). SAGE Publications.

Suddenly, a screen came between us

Blogpost written by Hassan Faraj and Daniela Martinez Jimenez

Being ignored by one’s partner using their cell phone while in your company may have an influence in your daily perception of relationship satisfaction and personal outcomes.

Key points:

  • The harmful combination of “phone” and “snubbing”.
  • Effects in romantic relationships.
  • “Getting even” partner response as a result.

Taken from:

Smartphones are useful, among a lot of other functionalities, to connect us with people beyond our immediate reach, fostering virtual connections. However, they have also emerged as a disruptive force in face-to-face interactions, particularly within romantic relationships in today’s digital era.

The phenomenon of phubbing, or phone snubbing, has captured the attention of academic researchers. This social problem has been previously associated with negative after-effects related to how the person perceives the current status of the relationship.

The research paper by Tessa Thejas Thomas, Katherine B. Carnelley, Claire M. Hart, published in Computers in Human Behavior adopted a daily diary approach in order to give insight to three specific concerns related to these everyday technology-driven interruptions of couple interaction, from the point of view of the Phubbee or recipient:

  1. What are the consequences of phubbing your partner in terms of their well-being and perception of relationships satisfaction?
  2. How do partners respond when they are phubbed?
  3. What are partner’s motives for choosing to pick their own phone and use it (retaliate) when they feel phubbed?

The last two were the primary focus of the study, given the fact that there is previous theoretical background related to the outcomes of partner phubbing but not so much in respects to retaliation and what incentives phubbees take into account for imitating their partner’s smartphone use.

So, how did they do it?

In the aim of addressing these concerns, a total of 75 participants recruited from social media, online forums, and word of mouth, were asked to complete a 10-day diary, where the first day involved demographic questions and the following 9 daily diaries measured factors related to the topic, with a “not at all” to “a great deal” scale generally.

And what did they find?

The study found that daily perceived partner phubbing decreases the relationship satisfaction. Simultaneously, participants also reported greater feelings of anger/frustration on days where the perception of Phubbing was high. However, the personal well-being, that was evaluated considering the self-esteem, depressive mood, and anxious mood, was not affected by the phubbing, which we found very surprising.

In respect of the different explored responses to partner phubbing, high level of phubbing was related to greater phubbee curiosity and resentment and not to conflict creation or ignoring the partners actions. Furthermore, as expected, partner phubbing was also associated with retaliation. It was found that individuals may retaliate by phubbing their partner back due to various motivations, including revenge, need for support, and need for approval.

It is time for reflection

The research paper sheds light on a common behavior and calls on individuals to be mindful and become more aware of their smartphone use during social interactions. Additionally, understanding the motivations behind retaliatory behaviors can help individuals recognize the negative consequences of phubbing and develop strategies to reduce its occurrence.



Thomas, T. T., Carnelley, K. B., & Hart, C. M. (2022). Phubbing in romantic relationships and retaliation: A daily diary study. Computers in Human Behavior, 137, 107398.

Self-Representation on Social Media: What Inspires Your Posts?

Blogpost written by Hanif Effah Dadzie and Pamela Belén Herrera Justiniano

Every now and then we get the desire to share certain interests of ours on social media. Thoughts, popular quotes, pictures, films, music, among others, are some of the content we share on our platforms. But, have we ever stopped to ask the one question:

What really motivates us to share the contents we post?

Let us take a moment to go through some highlighted inspirations as we read on, reflect, and realize what has been driving us to post on social media. We will focus mainly on music and film sharing, as we take a look at a study conducted in 2018, “Click here to look clever: Self-presentation via selective sharing of music and film on social media” , by Benjamin K. Johnson and Giulia Ranzini. The study showed how the need to fit in, be your authentic self, or showcase the best version of yourself might end up being reflected in your choice of music and film sharing.

Key points:

  • Selective sharing on social media
  • Experimental findings
  • Implications of selective sharing

The study

Johnson and Ranzini introduce three motives for the presenting one’s self that might lead to selective patterns of sharing media content. The need to be unique, which they term as actual-self. The desire to exhibit characteristics that aligns with the expectations of others, which is termed as own-ideal self. The third term they introduce is the other-ideal self, which refers to the sense of belongingness.

The study consisted of a group of 168 Facebook active users that were divided into three groups. Each one was asked to imagine one of the three situations: they wished to express themselves authentically, wished to make a highly positive impression on others, or wished to express their identification with a social group of their own choosing. With that scenario in mind they were asked to list three songs and films they would be likely to post, or discuss, on their Facebook page. Additionally, they were given questionnaires to measure traits like self-esteem, need for uniqueness, involvement, sharing propensity, and Facebook intensity as well as their perception of their own answers.


At the end of the study, it was revealed that the self-presentation motives do have an effect on the online sharing of particular types of media. Those who were asked to imagine a situation where they wanted to identify with a certain group (other-ideal self), listed songs and films they later rated as less unique, contrary to those were asked to imagine expressing themselves to impress others (own-ideal self) and those were asked to express their true selves (actual-ideal self).
This shows that in a setting in which we are thinking of how others might perceive us, we tend to pull towards more mainstream media in an attempt to fit in. Those assigned to the own-ideal self group chose more high-status music and films. Interestingly, there was no significant impact observed for guilty pleasures, leading the authors to think perhaps they’re unlikely to be shared at all.

Ultimately, motives for presenting oneself online impact the media they share. Those contemplating others‘ perceptions leaned towards standard and popular content, while those emphasizing a positive self-image chose more high-status material. Those with an already intense presence on social media don’t comply with this, as they already have an established online persona.

So, next time you hit “share”, think about this: it’s not just about the catchy song or popular movies; it’s about the story you’re telling about yourself! Whether it’s fitting in, being true, or leaving a lasting impression, our posts are our digital personas in action, our own digital fingerprint.

Source: “Click here to look clever: Self-presentation via selective sharing of music and film on social media”

Addressing long-standing misconceptions about social media impacts on users: Are they always harmful to mental well-being?

Blogpost written by Maksim Danchuk and Dang Ngoc Truc Quynh

Key points

  • Social media not only has positive effects such as inspiration but also can produce negative impacts like social comparison and envy on their users‘ well-being.
  • The relationship between social use and users’ well-being is complex and long-term.
  • Passive use of social media can have diverse and individualized effects.
  • Some advice is suggested to solve those problems

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok are very popular among people all over the world. They are used more than 2,5 hours a day on average and this number is increasing rapidly [1]. Social media can help to get useful information and have a good time. Some people even earn money, make friends, and receive the latest news and relevant knowledge with social media. So, they are becoming considered as a daily ritual or fuel for the whole day by some users. But do they have only a good impact on their users in today’s interconnected world?

Previous multiple studies in the 2010s revealed some negative impacts on the well-being of teenagers and youngsters, including such key issues as envy and social comparison, which means thinking about others in relation to themselves. This, in turn, causes envy. However, the studies have shown some positive outcomes like inspiration from social media use as well. Both active and passive use of social media were covered. Active use includes adding content while passive use is just watching content. So, researchers started questioning whether the effects of passive social media use are as harsh as it was thought to be and whether “active” versus “passive” use is a good term to explain well-being effects.

New study findings

Social comparison and envy caused by social media don’t only negatively affect users’ well-being, but also positively give them motivation to become better. For example, a social media user can see another person’s success and set it to be their target to develop themselves with new skills and knowledge. Moreover, the new research suggests that the effects caused by the passive use of social media are very diverse and personalized. For example, surveys have found that only 10-20% of Dutch youngsters feel the negative impact caused by the passive use of social media while the rest of the users feel the same or better [2].


The new study has investigated that associations between social media usage and well-being are complex and long-term. Some research has shown the negative impacts on users by continual use of social media such as depression. While others haven’t observed that. Thus, the new research claims about the complex interplay between user experience across different time lapses.

Moreover, according to social media companies, social comparison has a varied and specified nature. For example, a study with Facebook users from different countries states that social comparison is more frequent among younger users with more friends who spend more time on their profiles and face positive content. At the same time, Instagram user research by Meta Platforms reveals that teenagers perceive social comparison as a key issue for their well-being.

Practical action

After defining the negative impacts of social media mostly depending on the way you use it every day, we suggest some actions that could help you improve these effects.

Firstly, you can limit the online time to improve the depression caused by social media. However, due to the long-term relationship between social media and the users, the habit of using it needs to be changed step by step. To not go cold turkey, you should only reduce 10 minutes of using social media every day to create a new routine, and then continue decreasing it.

Secondly, building a “healthy” online environment is a good way to motivate you to become better and also against social comparison. Researchers claim that following people who are successful but make you feel bad is even worse than following the normal. Do not let those idealized posts confuse your value, there will be the dark side that they do not show up on social media.

Thirdly, being an active online user can “win” the negative influence of passive social media use. People who comment and react with their friends on social media are happier than ones who only scroll without any engagement. Just take your Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok account as the place where you can talk, share, and connect freely.


In conclusion, this article focuses on how social media contributes to negative feelings through upward comparison and envy, which directly harm well-being. Therefore, there is some advice for you to make your social media experience better.

Link to the article:



[1] Simon Kemp (2023). DIGITAL 2023 DEEP-DIVE: HOW MUCH TIME DO WE SPEND ON SOCIAL MEDIA?’s%20latest%20data%20reveals,at%20the%20start%20of%202022.

[2] Beyens I, Pouwels JL, van Driel II, Keijsers L, Valkenburg PM: The effect of social media on well-being differs from adolescent to adolescent. Sci Rep 2020, 10:1–11,

[3] H. Wenninger, C.M. Cheung, M. Chmielinski: Understanding envy and users‘ responses to envy in the context of social networking sites: a literature review

Int J Inf Manag, 58 (2021), p. 102303,

[4] B.K. Johnson, S. Knobloch-Westerwick: When misery avoids company: selective social comparisons to photographic online profiles

Hum Commun Res, 43 (2017), pp. 54-75,