CSU study looks into why phone use carries into social situations

PHUBBING STUDY: Charles Sturt University Associate Professor Yeslam Al-Saggaf is launching a study into why people can't get off their phones even when meeting up with friends. Photo: SUPPLIED
PHUBBING STUDY: Charles Sturt University Associate Professor Yeslam Al-Saggaf is launching a study into why people can't get off their phones even when meeting up with friends. Photo: SUPPLIED

Walk into a pub, coffee shop or restaurant in Orange and chances are there will be a group of people who have gone to the effort to meet-up but are ignoring each other while glued to their smartphones.

The phenomenon is known as phubbing and researchers from Charles Sturt University have put out a survey and are asking residents to take part. 

The survey has been put together by researchers Associate Professor Yeslam Al-Saggaf and Ms Rachel MacCulloch from the university’s School of Computing and Mathematics.

“You can see people using their phones in so many different social situations these days. At the dinner table, among friends, at the movies and even in bed.” Professor Al-Saggaf said.

“Is this as a result of boredom or shortened attention spans?” 

He said a recent study by dscout has revealed that people pick up their smartphones an average of 76 times per day.

“Is this as a result of boredom or shortened attention spans?”

CSU Associate Professor Yeslam Al-Saggaf

“So, we’re keen to collect information from everyday people about why they use their smartphones during social situations and how frequently they do and what kind of things they’re doing on their phones while with other people,” Professor Al-Saggaf said.

He said a previous study showed that the people who are most likely to be phubbed are close friends rather than employers or aquaintences.

It also showed that the most common site to be used during such a situation was Facebook, followed by Facebook messenger, gmail and weather apps. 

Professor Al-Saffaf said students also do it in his classes and as long as students had their phones on silent he didn’t stop them because sometimes they were googling something he was talking about although he said they did also go on Facebook.

The CSU research is hoping to answer:

  • Why people use their smartphones during social interactions
  • How frequently do they do it
  • What apps do people use when they use their smartphones during social interactions
  • With whom do they converse, and 
  • In what kinds of situations do they use their smartphones while conversing

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