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.
Photo from ElvertBarnes via flickr