Spotlight on “Phubbing”

Alumna Clarice Sim (CS’06, MSc’09) and her students from Singapore Polytechnic shine the spotlight on “Phubbing” in Singapore.

The research paper on “Phubbing” was featured in The Straits Times, The New Paper and Lianhe Zao Bao earlier this year. PHOTO CREDITS: JUDE TAN

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“Phubbing” — a combination of the words phone and snubbing — refers to the anti-social act of using a smartphone in the company of others.

The term was coined in 2012 and has increasingly been the focus of academic research. In Singapore, alumna Clarice Sim has been been making headway in the local research of this growing social phenomenon.

Earlier this year, Sim, a mass communications lecturer at Singapore Polytechnic, and her group of five students published their paper, “Phubbing and its Impacts on Relationships among Youth.”

The paper was the result of six months of intensive research, which was part of a core module that Sim teaches.

The group’s hard work did not go unnoticed. Sim and her students made the headlines in both the English and Chinese press for their research work. Details of their paper on “Phubbing” were well covered by The Straits Times, The New Paper, Lianhe Zao Bao and Lianhe Wan Bao.

Their study involved 785 youth between the ages of 15 and 35. The team interviewed Singapore residents, focusing on selected neighbourhoods, including Bishan and Orchard Road. Among other key findings, the research ascertained that “Phubbing” had a negative impact on romantic relationships.

Their study also revealed that 62.8 percent of their male respondents believed that “Phubbing” would negatively affect a relationship as compared to the 54.5 percent of females who said likewise.

“We did hope to spread awareness on the issue of “Phubbing” so that people will be more conscious of the unintended negative impacts on their relationships,” she said.

The media attention on the research went beyond print. Sim, along with her team of five students, was also invited to Channel 8’s talk show programme and 958 FM radio for a ‘LIVE’ interview early this year.

“I tried to maximise interview engagement among all 5 students. I hope to teach them that this is as much of a Public Relations exercise as it is a school-based project,” said Sim.

After completing her undergraduate degree in 2006, Sim went on to complete her Master’s Degree in communicative research at WKWSCI.

Following a short work stint at the Ministry of Social and Family Development, Sim found her way into the teaching profession.

“My job allows me to combine two of my passions – teaching and research. I can’t ask for more.”

Clarice SimLecturer, Singapore Polytechnic

Sim shared that her passion for research and teaching was sparked when she worked as a teaching assistant and a part-time tutor at WKWSCI in 2013. During this time, she also had the opportunity to work on some collaborative research on the impact of new media on social relationships.

“What I have taken away with me from the professors at WKWSCI is a sense of integrity,” shared Sim, who added that being accountable for one’s work is key. “It is something I try to impress upon my students.”

Following the teaching stint at her alma mater, Sim took up an adjunct lecturing position at Singapore Polytechnic; this eventually led to a full-time role in 2015.

“My job allows me to combine two of my passions – teaching and research. I can’t ask for more,” she said.