updated 17 Feb 2013, 13:21
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Thu, Feb 14, 2013
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The modern love triangle

Technology can bring people together - think Skype, Facebook and more - but it can just as easily tear them apart.

Increasingly, couples in Singapore are finding that intimate moments may be interrupted by the beeping of a device.

An administrative assistant, who wanted to be known only as Ms Ghopinath, said that it's normal for her to call a halt to an intimate activity, in order to reach for a smartphone or tablet that has "demanded" her attention.

"I'm just used to it, I guess. I'm so used to bringing my smartphone everywhere I go, even when I'm lying in bed," she said.

"You never know, it might be an important call or text from my parents, or it may be an emergency... I'm so dependent on my tablet and smartphone these days."

The 24-year-old added that she finds it acceptable for her partner to do the same, and that it would be all right for him to reach for a mobile device immediately after being intimate.

In a My Paper survey of 31 people aged between 20 and 25, a total of 19 respondents said that they find it acceptable for their partner to check their devices right after being intimate.

Call it the modern love triangle, where people have become so attached to their devices that those gadgets become a close second to - or even eclipse the relationship with - a loved one.

Some young executives compared the loss of a device to the loss of a relationship. A banking assistant, who wanted to be known only as Mr Chan, said that "it would devastate (him) if (his) iPad broke", as he had spent a long time saving up for the device.

"I'm not saying that my iPad is as 'close' to me as my girlfriend, but it would be quite painful if my iPad broke, probably as heartbreaking as ending the relationship with my girlfriend," the 24-year-old added.

These examples are in line with a recent study conducted by American market-research company Wakefield Research for gadget-accessories company Logitech.

The study of 2,000 adults, aged 18 and older, in the United States, Britain, France and Germany found that 74 per cent of American respondents thought that it was acceptable to reach for their tablet once an intimate moment had passed. Only 13 per cent would wait until their partner was asleep.

Also, 48 per cent of single women would rather spend the "morning after" with their iPad than last night's date, versus only 25 per cent of single men.

Forty-three per cent of American respondents would also be equally or more upset if their tablet broke, compared to breaking up with a significant other. Forty-five per cent of respondents in France, 35 per cent in Britain and 27 per cent in Germany felt the same way.

"Smartphones and tablets are becoming critical companions in today's society, so (the) survey provides interesting insights into how they affect our personal lives," said Mr Alexis Richard, director of brand development for tablet accessories at Logitech.

Experts are cautioning that devices are increasingly having an effect on human relationships. A New York Times feature called Your Brain On Computers: The Risks Of Parenting While Plugged In found that children find it frustrating when they have to compete with a mobile device for their parents' attention.

Dr Sherry Turkle, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Initiative on Technology and Self, told The New York Times she has found that feelings of hurt, jealousy and competition are widespread in such situations.

"There's something that's so engrossing about the kind of interactions people (have) with screens that they wall out the world," she said.

So, when it comes to technology, are you shutting out your partner, in favour of your smartphone or tablet? What a warped love triangle that would be.

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