Technoference: How Do You Live With It?

An Electronic Mental Health Newsletter from Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. & Associates
Volume 10, Number 4

April is not only National Autism Awareness Month but also Stress Awareness Month. We call your attention to both of these very important issues. Autism is a mental condition, present from early childhood, characterized by difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts. Over the past decade the incidence of autism has grown as has research into its causes. Stress can be defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. It is perceived as a threat of some type that can evoke a “fight or flight” response. We can accommodate to stress although eventually it can wear us down and take a tremendous toll on our daily functioning, our interpersonal relationships, and our health. We urge you to find out more about each.

This month’s E-letter focuses on Technoference: How Do You Live With It? Our email of the month is for about word facts and Our Ask the Doc question is about emotional crying. We hope you find the enclosed information helpful. We also thank you for reading our E-Letter and for the many comments we have received through the years.

Practice News

Weightism. Dr. Terry Newell has written about Weightism or weight based discrimination which is prejudice based on a person’s body size. It has its greatest negative impacts on those who are overweight, although there are many stereotypes based on thinness as well. The stigma related to weight bias can lead to false stereotyping, discrimination and being devalued by society, and personal shame including low self-esteem. Read more about Weightism on our Timely Topics page.

Testings. If you are concerned about your child’s school placement for the next school year, this would be a good time to have them evaluated. Recent questions from parents have ranged from should their child be retained to whether they are gifted to whether they have a disability that can qualify for accommodations at school. Our practice does different types of evaluations to help answer those questions and information about these evaluations can be found on our website. If you have more specific questions, please contact Dr. Kimmel.

Depression groups.Ongoing weekly depression therapy groups meet regularly in our office. A men’s support group and a women’s support group are run by Dr. Jim Kaikobad and meets for one and one-half hours. The group is educational, supportive, and confidential and is limited to 8 people. If you are interested in attending, please contact Jillian at 954 755-2885.

Research Study.If you are overweight, you might consider participating in a research study. Our practice has been asked by Life Extension Institute to participate in research assessing the effects of cognitive therapy, nutritional supplements, and medications on weight management in overweight individuals. Early results show continued weight loss for those subjects who are in the study. For more information about the study, contact Jillian, at 954 755-2885

Handouts from previous E-Letters can be found on our website, We invite you to read and download them if desired.


Our E-Letter this month focuses on Technoference which is a term used to describe interference in personal relationships due to technology such as smartphones, computers, tablets, and other electrical devices. In 2014, Brandon McDaniel and Sarah Coyne published their research with 143 women in married or committed relationships. They found that technology use proliferated in family life with frequent intrusions and interruptions in relationships. The following are their results:

  • 74% thought their smartphones detracted from their relationships with their partners
  • 62% said that technology interferes with their free time together
  • 40% said that their partner gets distracted by television during a conversation
  • 35% said that if their partner gets a text, they’ll pull out their phone mid-conversation
  • 33% said their partner checks their phone during mealtimes spent together
  • 25% said their partner will actively text others when they are face-to-face

In addition participants who rated more technoference in their relationships also reported more conflict over technology use, lower relationship satisfaction, more depressive symptoms, and lower life satisfaction.

Furthermore a Mobile Mindset Study found that nearly 60 percent of people admitted they don’t go an hour without checking their phone. More than half admitted they check their phones in bed, before they go to sleep, after they wake up, and even in the middle of the night. Our technology is almost always with us, often in our pocket, and it is easy for us to fill time when bored. However, it can also lead to problematic and addictive behaviors. People who are extremely social as well as those who are bored, lonely or depressed are at risk for developing problematic behaviors. And technoference also sends a subtle message to the person you are with that the device or the message is more important than they are. The term “phub” was coined by James Roberts in a study in 2012. Combining phone and snub, “phub” refers to when a person chooses to text, email or talk on their phone, rather than attend to whom they are with. The message to the other person is that they don’t matter. Roberts believes that attachments to cell phones and other technology can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression. Technoference also can lead to parallel relating where there is minimal emotional connection between partners. Just imagine two people or even families where all members are immersed in their technology. The components of good relating such as facing and overcoming disagreements and conflicts don’t occur. Learning to face frustration, delay gratification, and compromise are skills which make a relationship stronger but don’t occur when two or more people are present but not relating.

Technology conflict and Technoference can be reduced with a few ground rules between couples. The following suggestions are recommended:

  1. Discuss technology use with your partner and set mutually agreed upon rules to manage technology when together
  2. Examine your own technology use and consider how much time you spend a day checking emails, answering texts, or using social media, and is it that necessary
  3. Choose some time to disconnect and be technology-free everyday and attend to your partner or family
  4. Remove your technology to another room so you are not tempted to look at it
  5. Be careful not to get defensive when criticized for being away on your technology; the other person may feel abandoned

Attending to technology has become a daily life pattern and for the most part is not disruptive. However, in relationships, subtle messages may be sent to your partner that they are not that important to you and that you value your texts or emails more. This will lead to conflict and arguments in relationships and in personal life. Consider and manage how, where, and with whom you use technology.

We offer the following information on Technoference: How Do You Live With It?:

An email’s like I’ve seen you…I press send… you disappear
Well that’s not enough when you’re in love…No, nowhere near
Your face is a thousand pixels, your asleep and I’ll shut you down
Cause all this superficial love…It’s not enough— Jesse J


  • A study by Coyne and McDaniel of 143 women in committed relationships found:
  • 74% thought their smartphones detracted from their relationships with their partners
  • 62% said that technology interferes with their free time together
  • 40% said that their partner gets distracted by television during a conversation
  • 35% said that if their partner gets a text, they’ll pull out their phone mid-conversation
  • 33% said their partner checks their phone during mealtimes spent together
  • 25% said their partner will actively text others when they are face-to-face
  • According to a Mobile Mindset study, nearly 60% of people do not go one hour without checking their phones and more than 50% check their phones in bed before they go to sleep, during the middle of the night, and after they wake up
  • Technoference is routine and has become so much a part of life that interruptions are taken for granted and occur without notice
  • When people place technology such as smartphones above the person they are with, they send the subtle message that the technology is more important than the person
  • Allowing technology to intrude or interrupt relating can lead to conflict and other negative outcomes in personal relationships
  • Technoference can cause damage to intimacy and well being leading to greater depressive symptoms, lower life satisfaction, and lower relationship satisfaction
  • People also often turn to smartphones as a way to avoid anxiety, boredom, conflicts, and difficult conversations when with other people
  • Phub (phone + snub) was coined by James Roberts to describe when a person texts, emails, or makes a call rather than attend to the person they are with and devalues them
  • Technoference allows for the avoidance of those situations, such as frustration or miscommunication, that when worked out strengthen relationships
  • With some people, technoference can become an addictive or problematic behavior pattern leading to additional problems in functioning and relating
  • A dependency on emailing and texting may develop in those people who are lonely or bored as well as those who are quite social and need to stay connected to others


  • Acknowledge that your using technology may be negatively impacting your relationships
  • Discuss technology with your partner and set mutually agreed upon rules to manage technology use
  • Examine your own technology use and whether you are letting it interfere in your life
  • Consider how much time you are on your devices and if it is that necessary
  • Attend to the feelings of who you are with and how they are reacting
  • Set technology-free time each day to be with your partner or family
  • Seek professional help to assist in improving relationships

We Can Help!

Call us at (954) 755-2885 or email us at

Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. and Associates 5571 N. University Drive, Suite 101 Coral Springs, Florida 33067

Copyright © 2015; by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D.

As always, we would like to welcome new readers to our e-Letter. We hope that you find it informational and enjoyable. We invite you to share this e-Letter with others. If you have received this from a fellow reader, please send us your email address to include you on our list.

Ask The Doc

SW writes:I recently had an argument with my 25 year old daughter. She said some very hurtful things to me…some of which were true. I could not talk to her and hung up on her. I immediately began to cry and cry. After a few minutes, I felt much better. I called her and we agreed to have lunch and talk this out. But can you explain why I felt better after I cried? I mean I physically felt better. What happened?

Dr. Terry Newell replies: SW, this is actually a very interesting question. Crying is a natural emotional response to environmental stimuli. Our tear ducts are part of our lacrimal gland, which sits between our eyeballs and our eyelids. This gland is connected to our limbic system which is the part of our brain that is responsible for emotions.

Crying is more complex than one might think. It turns out that we actually tear up or cry for three different purposes. When we cry, we make basal, reflex, and psychic or emotional tears. Basal tears are the ones produced to keep our eyes moist. Reflex tears are the tears used to clear out any irritants such as dust, eye lashes or onion vapors. Psychic tears are shed due to sadness, frustration, happiness, etc.

Another part of our limbic system, the hypothalamus, is hard wired into our autonomic nervous system which we have no control over. It produces a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine which stimulates the production of our emotional tears. What’s even more interesting is that our emotional tears contain a natural pain killer called leucine enkephalin. Thus we can feel better when we cry.

Emotional crying appears to be a primal, non-verbal method of communication to others that you need help or support. In addition, your tears may actually mitigate some of your emotional pain. Thus, there is some truth to the belief that having a good cry can make you feel better. So next time you are feeling emotionally drained, you might want to give yourself permission to cry and see if you feel a little better afterwards.

Email of the Month

We would like to thank Mark L. for the following email:

Word Facts

Stewardesses is the longest word typed with only the left hand.

“Lollipop” is the longest word typed with your right hand.

No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, or purple.

“Dreamt” is the only English word that ends in the letters “mt.”

The sentence: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” uses every letter of the alphabet.

The words “racecar,” “kayak” and “level” are the same whether they are read left to right or right to left.

There are only four words in the English language which end in “dous”: tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous.

There are two words in the English language that have all five vowels in order: “abstemious” and “facetious.”

Typewriter is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard.

Please continue to send us your comments, questions, and favorite emails for our E-Letter.

Till May…

The information provided in this electronic newsletter is not a substitute for professional treatment. It is the opinions of the writers and is provided solely for educational purposes. For mental health care, seek a qualified professional.

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If you find this information interesting or helpful, please forward this E-Letter to your contacts and friends. Copyright © 2015 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D. P.A. and Associates.