It’s Valentine’s Day; so engage your partner not your phone!


We’ve all been there – one minute you’re having a heart-to-heart conversation, a real moment with your significant other, when suddenly a ping from your phone interrupts you and several things happen at once: Your eyes instinctively flicker to your buzzing screen, you move to turn it off, but not before catching sight of the notification and feeling compelled to address it. You attempt to get back to the present with your significant other but, alas, the moment has passed, and you may have even ticked them off by choosing to shoot off a text instead of prioritizing your conversation. 

So common is this phenomenon of letting our digital devices interrupt and intrude our daily lives that the term ‘technoference’ was recently coined to describe it. We may not even be aware of it because frequently checking our devices has become such a normal part of our lives, but technoference is one of the main reasons why we may be jeopardising the very relationships that we hold near and dear to our hearts.

You are sabotaging your own relationship.

Research shows that by constantly allowing our devices to interrupt conversations, activities and precious time with our significant other, we are signalling to them that they are not as important as our devices. This naturally causes conflicts to arise in the relationship. In fact, a recent study revealed that texting behaviour that results in such conflicts could reduce the overall perceived quality of the romantic relationship over time!

Isn’t it laughably ironic that the very devices that empower us to connect with individuals from every corner of the world are stripping us of our ability to appreciate and prioritise the ones right next to us? We need to confront the uncomfortable reality that a significant proportion of our precious time with our loved ones has been and will continue to be sacrificed to our devices unless we wake up and smell the (Valentine’s Day) roses.

The uncomfortable truth you need to confront right away

For many of us who have become accustomed to the constant engagement with our devices, addressing this may not seem as important as it should be. To truly internalise the implications of our addiction, we need to gain insights on our personal trade offs as a result of our relationship with our devices. That’s exactly what motivated our team at Plano to develop the Plano Time Machine – an online platform that calculates exactly how much time each of us stands to lose over the course of our livesbecause of smart devices.

Beyond that, the transformative aspect of Time Machine is that it makes personal recommendations on the time we can regain if we modify the amount of time we spend on our devices. For the thousands of people the world over who have already used the Time Machine, the revelations have not been pretty. However, these insights are a necessary first step in addressing our unhealthy relationships with our devices and reprioritising the things that matter – our loved ones!

Don’t lose sight of what matters.

This Valentine’s Day, I urge each and every one of us to recognise what we are essentially forgoing for those extra hours behind our screens. Our real-world connections are sacred and irreplaceable and give the fleeting gift of life its true depth and meaning. Let’s remember to engage with the present moment fully and to treat the people that matter to us with the love we know they deserve. After all, our smart devices can never love us back, not in the way they can.

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