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FunTimes Magazine

The Digital Divide: How Smartphones Is Impacting Modern Relationships

Oct 08, 2023 10:00AM ● By Okechukwu Nzeribe

Photo by Jeff Kweba

I had the pleasure of being invited to attend an event organized by a new Tech Hub that was looking to collaborate with stakeholders within the city in order to build a tech community within the state.

Would have been a lovely event, a lovely gathering, and a great opportunity to network and meet people thriving in the tech business world if only we all did not spend more time looking at our phones for the latest trending news on X, Facebook, Instagram or whatever social media platform catches our attention these days.

Maybe I am too traditional but I find it amazing how smartphones have completely occupied our attention span. I miss the good old fashion days where events were a great platform to network and meet new people through face-to-face conversations or what we like to refer to in business as B2B meetings.

Even in relationships, more young men seem to be skipping the traditional chyking or toasting (wooing) of young women which was a delight back then as it gave one the opportunity to serenade the damsel with new found words extracted from the dictionary, reconstructed for maximum impact and delivered with the sole purpose of sweeping that delightful angel off her feet.

These days, all you hear is “Babe how are you? You look beautiful”, and then a few mundane conversations follow leading up to “what is your social media handle”


Furthermore, the rise of dating apps and online platforms has changed the way romantic relationships are initiated and sustained. While it provides easy access to a diverse pool of eligible persons, the seeming shallowness and pull towards temporary sexual gratification rather than genuine connection in some cases leaves many with more heartaches than meaningful partnerships.

A distracted presence is one common denominator of these digital devices. In homes, couples could be present yet absent as their eyes are glued to their phones seeking out the latest trending gossip online. Children would rather lock themselves up in the room glued to their phones than have conversations with their siblings or parents.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto

It’s a digital madness out there.

Digitally, we might be connected but on an interpersonal level, we are exceedingly distant, never engaging those around us. This in turn stunts our emotional development and makes it difficult to develop certain life skills necessary for interpersonal development.

It is no surprise that despite the seeming traffic of persons conversing online, many still crave the physical contact of people in order to overcome that isolation, longing and void which the digital world cannot fill.

To overcome phone obsession in relationships, it is vital to practice putting your phone away when on a date, at home with your spouse and children, during meetings or any other business engagement. 

Many practice the habit of putting their phones face down, leaving their phones in another room from where they are, or simply just putting it on silent mode so as to get the best from whatever activity they are currently engaged in.

Rather than scrolling endlessly through our phones at any event, one must consciously make the effort to engage in some face-to-face conversations with people. There is so much to learn from just listening and conversing with people. Also, it is a great way to boost one’s self confidence, life experience and exposure.

Finding a balance between our digital lives and real lives is critical if we must survive the danger of being lost in this digital divide that we are unable to know the difference between both.

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 Okechukwu Nzeribe works with the Onitsha Chamber of Commerce, in Anambra State, Nigeria, and loves unveiling the richness of African cultures. [email protected]

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