This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Note to husbands and boyfriends: Put down the phone.
Women whose partners disrupt conversation to consult gadgets say the distraction takes a toll on their relationships, according to new research from Brigham Young University and Penn State University.
"It could be Facebook, an app, a game, anything," said Brandon McDaniel, a doctoral candidate at Penn State and co-leader of the project. "Sometimes it causes conflict. Sometimes it might make her feel like she's a little less valued than the device."
The online survey went to about 150 moms, mostly in their 20s and 30s, who are married to or living with a man. The results appeared this week in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture.
About three in four women said they believe cell phones "detract from their interactions" with their spouse or partner. Such "technoference" often jump-starts a negative cycle. It can cause more tech-related distractions, which may hurt the relationship, drive down "life satisfaction" and raise the risk of depression.
The study is one chunk in a larger project looking at women's use of digital media. Researchers avoided asking the male partners about tech-related disruptions, and they did not study ways to prevent the disruptions. But McDaniel says one good strategy is for couples to pencil in time to ignore apps and focus on each other.
"The answer's not simply to ban technology in a relationship," McDaniel said. "It's not realistic."
By the numbers
Some takeaways from the survey of 143 women›
62% • Said technology interferes with their free time together.
35% • Say their partner will pull out the phone mid-conversation if they receive a notification.
25% • Said their partner will actively text other people during the couple's face-to-face conversations.