1 in 8 People Are Only Pretending to Talk On Their Phones


I thought this was a phenomenon that existed mostly on college campuses: people suddenly pull out their phones, just as you walk by, making a chat impossible.  Not all of them could be getting calls, right?  Some of them must just be avoiding you.

I always assumed that this was a combination of my paranoia and college awkwardness. But it turns out, according to a new study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, that 13% of people use their phones to look busy so they don’t have to talk to anyone else.

The study also revealed the extent of our phone-dependence.  83% of American adults own a cell phone, and half of those use their phones for instant information-retrieval.  But 29% also said that they turned off their phones occasionally, just because they needed a break.

That’s probably healthy, given that, as Meredith Melnick observed at Time’s “Healthland” blog, “many people would argue that turning your phone off is a gesture of intimacy and affection for the people around you.”

Unsurprisingly, the results broke down differently according to age.  Younger people were more phone-dependent and were also more likely to use their phones for non-voice related activities.  A shocking 30% of young people have used their phone to avoid talking to people around them, suggesting that this antisocial gesture is becoming more and more acceptable.

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Photo from ElvertBarnes via flickr


Meris M.
Meris M.5 years ago

It is hoped that Care2 will publish more articles about the health effects of electromagnetic radiation emitted by cell phones and other wireless devices. Mention should be made of existing legislation such as the recent San Francisco ordinance which requires retail shops selling cell phones to display posters and distribute fact sheets to inform buyers about cell phone radiation and how to reduce their exposure to these emissions. We need to encourage consumers to call for more such initiatives to protect our health, especially that of our children.

Anni Walker
Anni Walker5 years ago

The less we interact w/people face to face the less empathetic and concerned we become for people and our Earth!

Kaitlin Carney
Kaitlin Carney5 years ago

Sometimes even when my music players batteries are dead, I'll still put my headphones on. For some reason I always attract the weirdos on the bus as a chat buddy.

Nimue Pendragon

This is the most stupid thing I've read about today.

Brianna K.
Past Member 5 years ago

I wont own one.

Wendy F.
Wendy F.5 years ago

Ridiculous! Once in a while that might be a necessity but really! I HATE cell phones. I have one but I've only used it once when I was at the airport. It's fabulous to know when you're in the car you're not out of touch in case of emergency but WTF?! People! Put down the phones!!

Katrina Krantz
Katrina Krantz5 years ago

I had no clear people were doing this. That just seems really rude and anti-social.

Anissa Eve
Anissa Eve5 years ago

Cell phones are definitely over used and obsessed over in this culture

Jani D.
Jani D.5 years ago

Thank you for the note

Joe R.
Joe R.5 years ago

I never would have thought of this!