SINGAPORE - She has been with her boyfriend for around half a year, but they spent a few weeks snubbing each other by using their phones.
Josin Chee, 18, a second-year student at Singapore Polytechnic, told The Straits Times that her relationship with her boyfriend, who is in the same year but taking a different course from her, was strained due to "phubbing" - the act of ignoring someone in a social setting by using the phone.
"I got upset initially that he was not paying attention to me when we hung out. It feels like I'm not as interesting as a phone. Then when I did the same to him, he would call me out on it. We had this passive-aggressive back and forth for a few weeks, before we decided we had to kick the habit together."
Their story is reflective of one of the findings of a survey on phubbing's impact on relationships among youth here. It was conducted by students from Singapore Poly's Diploma in Media and Communication course, including Josin, in June last year.
The survey involved 785 youth aged between 15 and 35 who were interviewed around Singapore, including in Bishan and Orchard Road. It showed that phubbing had a negative impact on romantic relationships.
A total of 58.2 per cent of respondents strongly agreed or agreed that it would negatively affect a relationship. The survey also found that more males than females felt this way - 62.8 per cent of males said it would negatively affect a relationship, while 54.5 per cent of females said likewise.
Course lecturer Clarice Sim, 34, said she was shocked by that finding, as "females are portrayed as more sensitive in pop culture".
Josin's course mate Danial Hadi, 18, said he found it surprising that so many of his peers were affected by phubbing. "My generation grew up with technology, so we do not think much of the impact and never found it out of the ordinary or weird."