Preliminary results from a new survey suggest that the majority of people think interruptions from technology are harmful to their family. Technoference occurs when technology interferes with human interactions and relationships.
“I admit it even happened to me.” said Dr. David Schramm, an assistant professor and extension specialist at Utah State University. “My son came up for breakfast one morning, and I’m on my phone, and he walked by me. And that’s when my wife had to call me out and she said, ‘Honey, say good morning to your son.’ That’s technoference. It’s influencing my life, it’s influencing others, even when they go out to dinner. I could see it’s a real big problem, so I wanted to do a little investigation of my own.”
Schramm developed an online survey to investigate technoference. He distributed it to 631 parents across the United States. The survey gauged parents’ perceptions on how technology interfaces with family relationships and marital quality.
“88% agree that technoference is a big problem in society today. That’s almost 9/10! And 62% of those I surveyed agree that it’s a big problem in their family. So, talk about it. Have a discussion about it. Technology’s not going away,” Schramm said.
Schramm thinks that the survey might even underestimate the impacts of technoference because studies suggest people tend to underestimate their own phone usage. But the preliminary survey results are no reason to go off the grid.
“This is not saying put away technology anytime you’re with someone. So, this is simply to bring awareness to our lives and say ‘maybe I am on my phone a little too much especially in the company of others,’ or ‘maybe the table is a place to put it aside and spend more time savoring the moment that we have with other people, instead of letting the buzz get in the way of the connection,’” Schramm said.