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Help, they call me on the phone

Anxiety, fear, a sense of unease: young people are responding less and less to phone calls. And they take refuge behind texting and voicemail. We explain why


It certainly seems that the ringing of a phone causes more anxiety than an announced apocalypse. 

A survey conducted by Sky Mobile (2023) revealed that 26 percent of Generation Z ignore phone calls, while 75 percent of Millennials would rather text than make a phone call. This is called telephobia or phone phobia and can drastically affect teens' lives.

Phone anxiety, however, is not an issue related only to young people. For decades, past generations have experienced the same state of mind as something to be reckoned with. Something inevitable to overcome. 

When the telephone first made its appearance in 1876, people communicated exclusively by word and paper mail. The options for contact were certainly not what we have available to us today: texting, direct to social media and e-mail. 

What, however, are the main reasons why young people dislike phone calls? 

Young people perceive any attempt at phone calls as a violent intrusion into their daily routine, a kind of disrespect. They are afraid of confrontation by voice because there is less control over timing and everything can result in unpleasant conversations. They prefer to communicate with voice messages, which they describe as less risky.   

The ways in which this terror manifests itself, on the other hand, are varied: there are those who continue to stare at the screen until the ringer ends, those who hang up at the first ring, and those who experience severe anxiety attacks but find the courage to respond without being able to articulate meaningful sentences. Who then would prefer a simple written message.

On TikTok as any noteworthy topic is already trending and under the hashtag #phoneanxiety you can find the most diverse content. Psychologists staging sessions and advising on attitudes to take in case anxiety becomes uncontrollable, skits of young people asking older people to speak for them, teens showing how their tone of voice changes due to nervousness about a call.   


Phone anxiety gang rise up!

♬ original sound - KARL


It's curious. We spend more and more time attached to our smartphones, but we have less and less courage to use it to make a phone call.




Illustration by Gloria Dozio - Acrimònia Studios