With a growing world of social media and online interaction at their fingertips, it is hard to blame the millennial generation for their constant cell phone use; however, a new study found some millennials pull out their phones in public to avoid social interaction altogether.
According to report released by the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan fact tank, 13 percent of younger Americans said they have used their cell phone in public to avoid interacting with others around them.
“I do it all the time,” said Hannah Quick, a junior CDS major at Plattsburgh State. “If there’s someone I don’t want to talk to, I’ll pretend to text. I’ve even made a few fake phone calls.”
Whether it’s avoiding an unwanted conversation, or even awkward eye contact, many college students don’t hesitate to reach for their phones in an effort to relieve some of the social tension they perceive.
“If I’m in an elevator with a bunch of people I don’t know, I’m looking down at my phone,” said Steven Jones, a junior at PSUC.
But according to the Pew Research Center, avoiding social interaction is not the only reason millenials are out and about with their phones in-hand. Thirty-five percent of younger Americans said they have taken out their mobile devices in public for no particular reason at all – simply because they were not occupied at the time.
Although she said she could function for a day without her cell phone, Quick said she would miss not being able to check the time on her device every so often, as well as a few of her favorite apps.
“From when I wake up, to when I go to bed I would say I check (my phone) at least 30 times — probably more.”
And Quick is not alone. For some, reaching for their phones every few minutes has become a habit.
“During the day, I would say I check it 100 times,” said Ashley Jovine, a PSUC junior studying TV and video production.
While some said they could make it through the day without their mobile device, others were not sure they could without the help of their cell phone.
“It would bother me the whole day,” Jovine said. “Sometimes, I even hold it in my hand when I am walking around.”
Jones said he uses his phone during the day to stay up on sports scores, keep track of his fantasy football team and check his social media accounts. Like Jovine, Jones also said he would struggle through a day without his mobile device.
“I would feel empty and left out from the world.”
Whether they are purposefully trying to ignore their social situation or not, some students admit their cell phones have caused them to lose focus during lectures or derailed their conversations.
“When I’m texting someone and trying to have a conversation at the same time, it’s like the other person’s not even in the room,” Jones said. “It’s a bad social block.”
According to a study done at Baylor University and published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, female college students spend an average of 10 hours a day on their phones, while men spend about eight hours. The study, also found that excessive phone use could negatively impact academic performance.
Though he said his in-class phone activity “used to be bad, but has gotten better,” Jones said he still checks his phone two or three times during a given class period.
Quick, who also checks her phone during class, said the frequency of her cellular activity during class time depends on the size of the class, and her ability to be inconspicuous while on her device.
According to the same study conducted at Baylor, student spend the most time on their cell phones text messaging, followed by sending emails and checking social media.
“If it’s a big class, I’m on it for an hour at least.”
Email Thomas Marble at firstname.lastname@example.org