Technology may be interfering with couple time

LOGAN – Jack and Jill arrive home after a hard day at work and proceed to fix dinner and surf their tablet or cell phone for the latest news or social updates. They are on their devices before and during dinner.

When dinner is over and things are cleaned up, they get back on their devices, never speaking. When it’s time to crawl into bed, Jack and Jill get in bed still engrossed in their social media.

Electronic devises could be playing a big part in marital discord said Dr. Dave Schramm with Utah State University Extension.

He recently surveyed 631 parents across the United States between the ages of 21-60 about how they view technology. He was particularly interested in how technology interferes with two of the most important spaces for interaction and connection – in beds and eating at tables.

“I recently did some research on what has been coined Technoference, which essentially occurs when technology interferes with people’s face to face interactions and relationships,” he said. “Nearly half (45 percent) of couples in my sample indicated technology is a big problem in their marriage, I think a reminder to couples this Valentine’s Day about where they give their time and attention really matters.”

Dr. Schramm is not an alarmist in this area, and said he is certainly not anti-technology, but he does think most couples could use a reminder about technology creeping into their most important relationships.

“There are countless opinions about technology and the role it is playing in people’s lives and their relationships,” the professor said. “There’s even a new term for this called technoference which refers to technology interfering with people’s face-to-face interactions and relationships.”

New research findings suggest that nearly 9 out of 10 parents feel like it is a good idea to keep technology away from the table.

That is why Schramm came up with K-TOOB (Kick Technology Out of Beds) and K-TOOT (Kick Technology Off Of Tables).

  • Seventy-five percent of adults surveyed think that K-TOOB is a good idea and 88% believe that K-TOOT is a good idea. These ideas are meant to bring more awareness to how technoference may be affecting people’s relationships and strengthen relationships between couples and between parents and their children.

Here is more of what Dr. Schramm found:

  • Nearly four out of ten adults admit to using technology at least occasionally while eating at home with family members. This only drops slightly for people who report using technology while eating at a restaurant with their spouse/partner at least occasionally.
  • More than one-third of the adults use technology in their bed every night or almost every night. Even more report that their spouse/partner uses technology in bed almost/every night. That may be why nearly 25 percent feel like their partner’s use of technology in bed interferes with their sexual relationship.
  • Eighty eight percent agree that technoference is a big problem in our society, with 62 percent of those surveyed agreeing that it is a big problem in their family, and 70 percent reporting technology interrupts family time at least occasionally.
  • Forty-five percent consider technology a big problem in their marriage.
  • More than half (feel like their spouse/partner spends too much time on their cell phone and 48% wish their significant other would spend less time on their cell phone and more time with their children.
  • Over 50% believe they are on their cell phone too much while nearly 60% believe their spouse/partner is on their cell phone too much.
  • Six out of ten adults, over 60%, are concerned about the influence technology has on their relationship with their children, and nearly a quarter percent wish they had more information about technology and parenting, but don’t know where to turn.

Dr. Schramm recently created a guide sheet that may be helpful to parents as they navigate technology. Visit to download the free resource.

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