Almost a third of all those twentysomethings you see walking around talking on their cell phones are just pretending--perhaps so they can avoid you.
That's one of the findings of a new Pew Research Center study that surveyed more than 2,000 U.S. adults about their cell phone usage habits. Thirty percent of survey respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 said they had used their phone to avoid interacting with the people around them at some point in the last 30 days.
When expanded to cell phone owners of all ages, only 13 percent pretend to be on the phone to get out of unwanted small talk or confrontations with the landlord.
We probably shouldn't be surprised that so many of those calls in public are just for show, because who actually makes a call instead of texting these days?
Pew found that 92 percent of smartphone owners and 59 percent of other cell phone owners text from their phone. Sending and receiving texts is the most common use for cell phones outside of voice calls, tied with taking photos. But only 80 percent of smartphone owners and 36 percent of feature phone users actually send those photos via their phone.
Pew's findings were based on a national telephone survey of 2,277 adults conducted between April 26 and May 22. Of the interviews, 1,522 were conducted by landline phone, and 755 were conducted by cell phone. Interviews were conducted in both English and Spanish.
While our phones may provide us with an on-demand justification for antisocial behavior, Pew finds that they're enabling many smartphone users to socialize much more--that is, if social networks count as actual socializing. Fifty-nine percent of smartphone users surveyed say they access Facebook and other social networks from their phone.
We're also getting more done on our phones, according to the survey. More than half (51 percent) of phone owners have used a cell phone to get information they needed right away; 40 percent have used a cell in an emergency situation; 84 percent of smartphone users access the Internet from their devices; and 37 percent access bank information.
With our new mobile abilities, however, comes a disturbing, perhaps even pathetic, converse situation--a crippling cell phone dependence. Pew reports that 42 percent of those surveyed said they had trouble doing something when they did not have a phone handy.
There is a logical flaw in this finding, though. Why would anyone ever not have their phone with them? Can you imagine all the face-to-face conversations you'd have to have with people just walking around like that?