Can Too Much Screen Time on Smartphones Lead to Divorce?

Can Too Much Screen Time on Smartphones Lead to Divorce?

Nearly everyone has a smartphone these days. We use them for everything from staying connected with loved ones to managing our schedules. But could our increasing reliance on these devices damage our most important relationships? 

Recent research suggests that excessive smartphone use may be linked to lower marital satisfaction and even a higher risk of divorce. If you’re facing marital difficulties worsened by modern challenges like smartphone distractions, seeking professional guidance from the team of Georgia divorce lawyers at Hobson & Hobson can provide clarity and support tailored to your situation. A 2023 study by the Institute for Family Studies found that more than one-third of married Americans say their spouse is often distracted by their phone when they would prefer to spend quality time together. The problem appears even more pronounced among younger couples, lower-income households, and those without college degrees.

How do Smartphones Lead to Divorce?

So, what exactly is the connection between smartphones and marital discontent? Studies point to a few key factors:

  1. Phubbing. This refers to the all-too-common practice of prioritizing your device over the people you’re with in real life. Whether it’s sneaking peeks at your Instagram feed during a dinner date or firing off work emails while your spouse tries to talk to you about their day, phubbing sends the message that whatever is happening on your phone is more important than the person in front of you. Over time, that kind of subtle rejection can seriously erode feelings of closeness and connection.
  2. Opportunity cost. Every minute you spend scrolling is a minute not spent nurturing your marriage through conversation, physical affection, shared activities, or even just comfortable silence. The IFS study found that couples who struggle with excessive phone use have less frequent date nights and less active sex lives compared to those who are more digitally balanced. It’s not that phones directly cause these deficits, but rather that the easy dopamine hits they provide can make putting in the hard work of relationship maintenance seem less appealing by comparison.
  3. Fragmented attention. Our brains aren’t wired for the kind of constant task-switching smartphones enable. You’re not fully present for your partner when focusing on your device. Even if you’re not actively ignoring them, the fact that your attention is divided means you’re less likely to pick up on subtle cues like changes in tone of voice or body language that might signal they’re upset or in need of support. The result is that you miss opportunities for the kind of responsiveness and attunement that characterize healthy relationships.
  4. Deceptive perceptions. Social media, in particular, distorts our sense of what “normal” looks like when it comes to relationships. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of comparing your messy, imperfect marriage to the curated highlight reels other couples post online and feel like you’re falling short. Intellectually, we know that no one’s relationship is as shiny and perfect as it appears on Instagram, but it can still stir up feelings of dissatisfaction and resentment that get misdirected toward our flesh-and-blood partners.

Let’s be clear: smartphones are not inherently bad, and using them does not automatically doom your marriage. Like any technology, they’re a tool that can be used in healthy or unhealthy ways. The key is striking the right balance and being intentional about establishing boundaries around when, where, and how you use your devices. However, if smartphone use has become a significant source of conflict in your marriage, seeking guidance from a divorce lawyer in Georgia may be necessary to navigate potential legal implications.

How To Keep Your Marriage Healthy 

If you’re worried that your smartphone might damage your marriage, there are steps you can take to ensure that doesn’t happen. 

  • Establish “phone-free” zones and times, such as the dinner table or the hour before bed. Put your devices in a drawer to reduce the temptation to reach for them reflexively.
  • Use an app to track your screen time so you can accurately estimate how much time you spend on your phone each day. If necessary, set specific reduction goals.
  • Replace some of your phone time with activities you can enjoy with your spouse, like going for walks, playing board games, or exploring a new hobby together.
  • Have an honest conversation with your partner about any phone-related frustrations or concerns. Work together to brainstorm solutions that meet both of your needs.
  • If excessive phone use has already taken a heavy toll on your marriage, consider couples counseling to work through resentments, re-establish emotional intimacy, and get your relationship back on track.

By being mindful of how we use them and prioritizing our relationships, we can enjoy their benefits without letting them undermine our most important human connections. If you’re married, putting down the phone and learning to pay attention to your partner might just be the best investment you can make.

Contact Our Atlanta Divorce Attorneys

Sometimes, the damage done may be too great to repair. If you’ve tried addressing the issue with your spouse but are still spinning your wheels, it may be time to consider whether the relationship truly serves you. Should you find yourself contemplating divorce, it’s important to talk to an Atlanta divorce attorney who can advise you on how to protect your rights and interests. 

Contact Hobson & Hobson today at (770) 284-6153 or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a consultation. 

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