SAN FRANCISCO (CIRCA) — For many, text messaging and messenger apps have all but replaced making actual phone calls. And that seems particularly true among young people.
"If a friend calls me, I often hang up and text the friend to say, 'What's up?'" one San Francisco Bay Area college student recounted for Circa in a quick interview.
But a new survey from phone trade-in service BankMyCell has provided some unexpected reasons on exactly why this is. The top answer from the more than 1,000 millennials polled in the survey, and the handful we chatted with in San Francisco, was no surprise: Texting is a time-saver.
"Yeah, text or email [is faster]," a young man, smartphone-in-hand, agreed.
But there are, apparently, some other, less obvious reasons younger people prefer texting over phone calls. Anxiety is one of them.
"[There's] a feeling of discomfort immediately when you're getting the call," described one millennial woman we interviewed.
Jessica Abo, motivational speaker and author of “Unfiltered: How To Be As Happy As You Look On Social Media,” told Circa that the convenience of having text messaging growing up has left some young smartphone users less naturally comfortable with too much voice-to-voice communication.
"They've been behind a screen for most of their lives," Abo explained. "For people who are so used to having a barrier between them and another human being, a call can feel very personal and make them have a level of anxiety that maybe ... people my age would feel meeting someone in person."
Avoiding emotionally needy calls from friends or loved ones was also an answer given for why millennials don’t like to pick up the phone. Abo said that whole saving-time-by-texting-thing can be a simple communication shortcut, sure, but it can also mean avoiding getting stuck on a call and not being able to tend to work or other responsibilities you’re having anxiety about finishing.
"People are sensitive to the time that they have," she went on. "I think, because people want to make sure they're spending their time effectively, they're being a little bit more choosy when it comes to having to use their phone."
Then there’s the rise of robo-calls, where you pick up and an automated voice on the other end is asking you if you want to open a loan or switch your home cable service. These have been around for a lot of the time that millennials have had smartphones, and so a lot of them just wind up ignoring calls from any number they don’t recognize.
"Yeah, usually I don't pick up if it's an unknown number or something like that," a young smartphone user we spoke to said.
Of course, even with all that, it’s not as if young people never pick up the phone anymore, and that’s a good thing, in Abo’s opinion.
"In order for you to know how people in your life are really doing ... I still think, you know, pick up the phone."