Technoference: What Is It and What Are Its Consequences?

Technoference is a recent term that refers to the intrusion of technology into interpersonal relationships. We'll review its characteristics and consequences.
Technoference: What Is It and What Are Its Consequences?

Last update: 12 May, 2023

Technology has become a ubiquitous component in the daily lives of billions of people around the world. The positive impact that technological advances have had on social dynamics isn’t disputed. However, negative effects have also emerged with an increasingly accentuated prevalence. Today we’ll talk about one of them: technoference.

This situation, sometimes referred to as phubbing, is a term that has grown in popularity in recent years. All people experience it either passively or actively, although it isn’t always noticed. It’s a source of awkwardness, arguments, conflicts, negative emotional responses, and so on. We’ll take a look at its characteristics and make some reflections.

Technoference characteristics

Technoference is defined by experts as regular interruptions in communications, social interactions, or the time a person spends face-to-face, in real time, with other people, due to their use of technology. For example, when constantly using mobile phones, tablets, computers, televisions, and other equipment.

It’s often applied to the context of parent-child relationships. However, technoference invades all spaces of interpersonal relationships without any distinction.

It’s estimated that people spend an average of 9 hours a day using electronic devices. Since their use occupies a good part of the day, it’s inevitable that they’ll often disturb the relational dynamics with those around them.

Technoference implies the general and non-specific use of any technological device. It alludes more to the consequences of its use and less so to the reasons behind it.

For example, it’s a symptom present in people who become addicted to the Internet and new technologies. It also occurs among those who suffer from nomophobia and addiction to video games. It isn’t limited to any age, as it affects adults just as much as children.

Consequences of technoference

The main consequence of technoference is the deterioration of social relationships. As is natural, its consequences differ according to the type of relationship that one has with each person. Below, we’ll analyze two areas in which relationships are affected most: in couples and in parent-child relationships.

Consequences in couples

Technoference in couples is evident.
The use of technology can deteriorate relationships, especially relationships that have lasted longer.

A study published in 2016 in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture evaluated the impact of technological intrusion on 143 women who lived with their partner.

Most of them reported technoference as a common problem, one that often led to conflicts over technology use, lower relationship satisfaction, more depressive symptoms, and lower life satisfaction.

According to the evidence, the sequelae are more intense in people who have developed an anxious attachment style with their partner. It is also known that the consequences are accentuated more among couples who have been in a relationship for longer. Ongoing fights, jealousy, low self-esteem, communication problems, and reduced sexual intimacy are other triggers in the process.

Due to all this, couples who must deal with a greater degree of technoference in their day-to-day lives have a greater risk of relationship dissolution. Not only young couples are prone to manifesting these problems, but also older couples. After all, the use of technology has been democratized at all ages and in all contexts.

Consequences in the father-child relationship

Technoference in family relationships
Sometimes parents include technology so much in their daily lives that they neglect parenting. Something similar happens in the opposite direction.

According to some researchers, 40% of mothers and 32% of fathers report a problematic use of technology (mobile phones, mainly) that interferes with their relationship with their children. As expected, the excessive use of technological equipment doesn’t go unnoticed in the parent-child relationship.

For example, technoference has been linked to child behavior problems, parental stress, and decreased quality of communication between the two. In the same way, experts have suggested that it leads to a lack of knowledge of the parents’ socio-emotional functioning with regard to kids and to a worse attachment experience.

In the case of babies, it has been found that technoference can delay the development of children’s language. In this sense, specialists warn that it can cause lasting negative consequences for children’s learning. It isn’t a minor problem, and most parents ignore these consequences, which in many cases are permanent.

A real problem that needs to be identified

Technoference leads to a series of consequences on the quality of interpersonal relationships. The use of technological equipment compromises relationships with partners, children, and friends, and very often those who do so don’t even realize it.

Limiting the use of mobile, tablet, and computer when shared with other people can be a great help.

In view of this, digital minimalism has gained millions of followers around the world. It consists of progressively reducing the use of technology to the point that it’s only used for functional reasons. We invite you to investigate its claims and consider embracing them to avoid the consequences that result from the misuse of technology.

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