Internet addiction expert Prof Phil Reed comments on the ‘Phubbing Phenomenon’

Phil Reed, a professor of psychology at Swansea University who has studied internet addiction disorder, has offered his professional opinion on a new phenomenon known as phubbing: snubbing others in a social setting by checking your phone.

The phenomenon has become so widespread that a ‘Stop Phubbing’ campaign group has been set up in Australia.  Campaign creator, Alex Haigh from Melbourne, has created a website where companies can download posters to discourage phubbing.

Phubbing is just one symptom of our increasing reliance on mobile phones and the internet which is replacing normal social interaction.

YouGov research found that 44 per cent of us spend more than half an hour a day looking at our phones, eight per cent admit to checking it for three hours a day and three per cent say they spend five or more hours on their mobiles.  A third of Britons polled admitted to being phubbers and more than a quarter said they would answer their phone in the middle of a face-to-face conversation.

The research, which comes after a supermarket checkout assistant in London refused to serve a woman until she stopped using her phone, also found that a third confessed that they would answer the phone in a restaurant and 19 per cent said they would while being served in a shop.  54 per cent of people checked Facebook, Twitter or other social media every day, with 16 per cent checking more than ten times a day. An unsurprising 63 per cent of people carry their phone with them 'almost all, or all of the time', it found.

Prof. Reed, who is a professor of Psychology at the College of Human and Health Sciences at Swansea University said that many phubbers show symptoms of addiction to their mobile phone. They also show withdrawal signs if they are not allowed to use their phones constantly.

He said: 'The internet and social media are good things up to a point but we have to control them. If you were talking to someone and someone else came up and you started talking to the other person without including the first person in your conversation that would be thought of as very rude.'  Professor Reed, who does not own a mobile phone, said: 'We call it social connection; but it's not.'

Professor Reed has been interviewed on the Good Evening Wales radio programme (1 hour, 24 minutes into the programme) and has also featured in the Daily Mail.