Phone addiction ruining relationships - study

New research shows our love affair with our phones is ruining our real-life relationships.

It's also revealed we're choosing to text or email bad news rather than having those difficult conversations face-to-face.

In a 2degrees survey of more than 2500 people aged 16 to 75, almost 40 percent said they believe their partner's screen time is impacting the quality of their relationship.

One in five said it made them feel insignificant, which relationship expert Dr Anna Martin says is no surprise.

"People are social creatures, they need that interaction with their partners or their family," she told Newshub.

"When someone is preoccupied on their phone, it decreases connection, it decreases validation - and they don't feel prioritised."

Even just the presence of a phone can be irritating, she says.

"People automatically think there's an intrusion into that conversation by just having an iPhone sitting on the table."

Another notable finding from the survey was that people use their phones more often to deliver bad news. It found we're hiding behind screens to avoid those tough face-to-face conversations.

"There's a lot of communication that's non-verbal - so you're missing the nuances, you're missing how that piece of communication impacts on that person," Dr Martin explains.

On the upside, the poll found a third of families have a rule banning devices at meal times.

The new definition of date night could simply be switching off your phones.