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Despite improvements in video conferencing and VoIP technologies, and despite the fact that more people have cell phones now than ever before, we just aren’t speaking to each other as often. For example, 99% of Americans have cell phones, but spend 26 minutes per day texting and only 6 minutes on calls. In fact, the first ever decline in global mobile voice usage occurred in 2013 and that trend is likely to continue. How does your talking and texting stack up against the averages?

This may not come as a shock, but about 1 out of every 4 people socializes more online than in person, 32% of people would rather text you than talk to you, and a whopping 51% of teens would rather communicate digitally than in person (even with friends).

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Cell phones are ubiquitous and wireless networks are sweeping across Africa and South Asia, but people use their cell phones for non-vocal communication significantly more than for calls (sometimes even double).

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As you can imagine, these stats do vary slightly from country to country. In the UK, for example, 90% of 16 to 24-year-olds exchange texts with friends and family at least once a day, followed by social networking at 74%, mobile phone calls at 67%, and face-to-face contact at 63%.

Predictably, email is still the most frequently used form of non-vocal communication, but that may change very soon.

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This non-vocal trend started, at least in part, because of the spread of the internet. Internet usage saw a meteoric rise from 44 million in 1995, to over 3 billion in 2015. And non-vocal communication followed suit.  For perspective, an average of 0.4 texts were sent per month in 1995.  Today, there are over 193,000 messages sent per second, and that’s just via SMS.

Growth of internet


Keep in mind that the spread of internet communication has been worldwide. In fact, Asia now accounts for nearly half of all internet usage.  And as the internet spreads, verbal communication tends to trend downward.

Internet users


But is a decline in verbal communication a bad thing? It depends on who you ask.

43% of 18-24 year-olds say that texting is just as meaningful as an actual conversation with someone over the phone.  Also, though we aren’t “speaking” as often, we are “talking” now more than ever.

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Though the trends are clear, the future is relatively uncertain. 80% of millennials still think that speaking face-to-face is the most important form of communication in the workplace.

How do your communication habits stack up against the trends above? Do you think this trend is good or bad? Leave a comment below.

Subscribe at the top of the page or follow me on Twitter @dnlRussell.

Corilyn Shropshire, Americans prefer texting to talking, report says, Chicago Tribune (March 26, 2015).
How Teens Communicate, Washington Post (June 26, 2012).
Texting more popular than face-to-face conversation, Daily Telegraph (July 18, 2012).
Jeffrey Kluger, We never talk any more: The problem with text messaging, (accessed 7/13/15).

Categories: Attentiv Best Practices


  1. Elis James and John Robins on XFM

    07-14-2015 Reply

    You just HAVE to be on email, these days.

    • Adib Choudhury


      Very true! Seems like if you’re going to be active on anything online, you need an email account to register. Thanks for reading!

  2. Andre

    07-14-2015 Reply

    I think this shows a real decline in modern society. What kind of people would prefer to sit around doing nothing to going out and meeting friends! Makes me fear for our future.

    • Rusty King


      It all depends on how you look at it. What if I enjoy meeting people from all over the world rather than my current locale? I can’t afford to fly out and meet new friends.

    • Ericka


      My grandparents thought tv watching was doing nothing. My parents thought playing video games was doing nothing. Staying home doing nothing is cheaper than driving all over burning up gas at $3 or more a gallon. It was more fun to meet people when gas was cheaper than my cell phone plan.

  3. Lottie

    07-14-2015 Reply

    I think there is nothing to fear. People who love to laugh will always find places and people to meet because it is easy for them.

    • Mickey


      I much prefer informative articles like this to that high brow literature.

  4. IAmAnonymous

    07-16-2015 Reply

    The reason for this is simple, in my view. Verbal communication is coercive and dehumanizing. A large range of personality and ideological differences are played out in tone of voice, facial expression, emotional register, response time, and so on. The individual is vulnerable to the preconceptions and automatic judgments of others, and thus does not truly feel free to be themselves. In reality, there is an enormous existential pressure to conform to thought norms and stereotypes of others, to say the right thing at the right time, to the right people, and so on. All this has a tendency to subtly manipulate the person into behaving in ways that are more or less at odds with who they take their true self to be in essence.

    This kind of distressing force doesn’t manifest as strongly in the world of online, asynchronous communication. You have more time to think through what you truly intend to say. There is less pressure to behave inauthentically. And in fact, far more can be said as the interaction is mediated by what we know about the internet, and are able to communicate through the internet. Who the person is in their more intimate internal life is more easily expressed and less prone to the kind of distortion and scrutiny that would many keep their thoughts to themselves in most other contexts. All of these issues play into people’s preferences for why they avoid face-to-face or strictly verbal communication.

    The simple truth why text rather than speak? It’s liberating.

    • Steven


      On point response here. It truly is liberating to talk through text in my own experience, for many of the reasons you outline.

    • David


      I also think that often people will try to speak to drown others out, especially in a group setting. A text system allows the quiet, slow, calculating individual to contribute.

    • Jason


      I tend to disagree with your viewpoint, in my opinion you’re focusing on only the negative aspects of verbal communication and none of the positive, while it may be a contributing factor toward the trends in this blog I think the reasons are much simpler.

      IMO the reason we’re seeing these trends is because technology has and continues to become more mainstream. Turn back the clock 15 years or so I was paying 35c for an SMS message, MMS didn’t exist and the Internet was nowhere near as user-friendly as what we see now. We now live in an age where a 70 year old can send a text message or email without any assistance – why? Not because they’ve grown sick and tired of face to face communication but because the technology is finally reached a point where it’s usable and no longer intimidating for them.

      Electronic communication works for the most part, but there will always be scenarios where email or other non verbal communication will slow down the process of achieving a result, not to mention the increased opportunity for deception when communicating electronically.

    • Ericka


      I know quite a few people who work second jobs to make ends meet. The teachers and nurses I know put in long hours. (My grandmother did not work and spent hours on the phone). Some of the people I know get so little time that I would feel like I was imposing if I called and wanted to talk for more than 10 minutes. People used to love to talk to me in person. I am funny and cheer people up. That was before everyone got careers, spouses, children, mortgages etc. We went to coffee shops and talked. Then after the age of 21they ditched the coffee shops for bars. I gravitated towards churches (which have coffee and conversation) to meet people.

      I live in a rural area turned suburban (roads but no sidewalks). There are many more people driving on the roads. Busy Busy Busy. People do not talk as much face to face here compared to when I visit my relatives in the south.

      There could be multiple factors why people may prefer electronic communication. I have heard of persons fasting from their electronic devices. They have taken a break and gained a new perspective on their habits of communication.

  5. Anotherplayaguy

    07-20-2015 Reply

    And when the grid goes down? When there is no more internet?
    Talk about the zombie apocalypse! All those texters texting messages that go nowhere.

  6. Noyb

    08-04-2015 Reply

    so I suppose online communication, like facebook for example, isn’t dehumanizing or coercive…

    I mean no one behaves unauthentically there either…

  7. Hannah

    08-04-2015 Reply

    What is defined as a “text message”? Does this include messaging apps like Whatsapp or Telegram?

  8. Matt

    08-04-2015 Reply

    WOW, it’s first time I hear somebody communicating via emails. Yeah, some people use it for formal letters, but teens? I’ve no friends who are using emails to chat with other.

  9. Brian S

    08-10-2015 Reply

    Having been living apart from my wife on a couple of occasions, I can tell you that texting and email are both a very poor substitute to a phone call, and even better a Facetime or video call. You get very little nuance in text; even emoticons are poor-to-mediocre indicators.
    Voice call carries tonal nuance, as well as pauses, etc. Video adds the element of visual cues.
    I cannot conceive of text alone as being a truly sufficient communication medium.

  10. Sadie

    09-23-2015 Reply

    I’m a teenager, and i RARELY email my friends. In the year I’ve had a phone, I’ve probably called my friends 2 or 3 times, but I text them ALL the time.

  11. Craig

    12-25-2015 Reply

    Like many others I like to text in order to talk to others family friends afar and say what I need to say without being interrupted or any of that crap!
    Wish my own Dad would text me learn how at 74 years old! The electronic way of communication is the norm in today’s world! Hardly anyone verbally talks on phones unless they have too or want too!

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