Smartphone addiction could hurt your marriage - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Smartphone addiction could hurt your marriage

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Latest numbers by Nielsen show the majority of Americans now own a smartphone.

Those 25 to 34-years-old, two-thirds are smartphone owners. With all that power in the palm of your hand, do you need anything else?

What about "real relationships?"

"Everybody's texting, everybody is on their iPads, iPhones and it negatively impacts the intimacy," Joan Leary a professional marriage counselor says.

Leary has spent years as a counselor. Now, she says she notices a new issue facing couples.

"Inevitably it comes up, where the wife or the husband says he's always got his head in his iPad or he's constantly answering the phone," says Leary.

Smartphone addiction is becoming more common with spouses and like any addiction it can be damaging.

"It leaves the other spouse feeling dismissed, alone, angry frustrated," Leary says. "I've had recently a couple who was having trouble communicating, they do a lot of texting and they feel misunderstood, the tone and intination of what the meaning is, the text message is misconstrued."

Dr. Jackie Goldstein, a psychology professor at Samford University says the addiction starts in the brain.

"A smartphone can give us pleasure, different things at different times for different people give pleasure and when we don't have that source of pleasure we have withdrawals," says Goldstein. "We think of addiction as being associated with drugs, but what we forget is that the nervous system is a big drug store and there are naturally occurring chemicals called neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters can be stimulated by things other than drugs."

Leary agrees.

She sees smart phone addiction with similar traits to substance abuse. Leary calls that phone in your hand a "mistress."

"It really divides the marital or partnership, when somebody is constantly looking at their device and acting as if that device is more important than the human relationship that is sitting before them," says Leary.