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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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Sources: 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, CNN.com (accessed 7/13/15).