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Are Generation-Y Really Phonecall-Phobic?

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Communication by phonecall is dying out.

We are now living in a world where our smartphones are an extension of ourselves. As a nation, if we’re not doing anything you’ll no longer find us gazing into the distance, but looking down – at our phones.

In our busy liveswe no longer take time to stop and take the world in, instead, we will immerseourselves in our friends’ lives, checking Facebook and Twitter every tenminutes and staying on top of updates to remain in the know.

Nomaphobia, a new ‘affliction’, is the fear and anxiety of being without your mobile phone, with now over half of the mobile-using population being sufferers. 17% of smartphone users will check their emails in bed and one quarter of people will use their smartphone during a dinner date. Women have a greater attachment to their phones and are 17% more likely to suffer from nomaphobia compared to men.

So, we all clearly love our phones, but what do I mean by phonecall phobic?  OfCom report that the amount of phone calls has actually fallen while texting and instant messaging are rising significantly. This means, although we are using our phones a great deal more, we are no longer calling our friends and family.

Research shows that this is most common among the Generation Y-ers and Z-ers of the UK, with younger people preferring texting and IMing over calling, with some respondents even preferring this form of communication over face-to-face interaction. As people have got increasingly out of the habit of phoning their friends, the action has become more and more awkward, causing younger generations to shy away from calling their friends and family.

Compared to last year, 2013 has seen the number of both mobile and fixed-line voice calls fall as methods used to communicate with friends and family. Web-based text forms are now the most popular method of weekly communication among Gen Y. This includes email, social networking, IMing and blogging etc. OfCom also find that on average, younger people are 20% more likely to text their friends/family rather than use their mobile to call them, and that in general the under thirties prefer to IM and text rather than make phone calls.

Thanks to all these new methods of communication, voice calls have definitely taken a back seat.Many Gen Y-ers will only make phone calls as a last resort, or as a way to use up time. Most people are guilty of calling a friend or family member to liven up a boring walk or a long shopping trip. Phoning for a chat seems to be a thing of the past, with people now choosing to communicate little and often rather than catching up for a dedicated hour-long chin wag.

Businesses and customer services have been fast to pick up on this new trend and are now beginning to offer more web-based communication. Social media and email are becoming popular ways to make a complaint or book a table, and live chat is seen as a must for successful businesses. Naomi Tarry, director of Best of Suffolk, a company specialising in Suffolk cottage holidays, comments ‘Live Chat is a great way to tap into the younger generations who do not feel comfortable calling and asking questions’.

What’s the harm in texting over phone calls? Developmental psychologists believe that heavy use of web-based text forms are damaging to younger people because their interpersonal skills are not yet fully formed. Sherry Turkle, a psychologist specialising in the effect texting is having on interpersonal development believes that conversing with another human beings teaches children to have a dialogue with themselves enabling them to think, reason and self-reflect. While this is not such a big issue among Gen Y – who have already largely cemented people and communication skills – it could have a detrimental effect on the younger generations born in the noughties.

So while web-based (and non-calling smartphone methods) forms of communication are easier, save time and allow the users to multi task, it’s important to not forget the power of the humble phone call.