Mobile a "Social Crutch"

David Murphy

According to digital market research firm InsightExpress, a significant percentage of younger adults use their mobile phones to avoid uncomfortable or unwanted social interactions, and even fight boredom. Research just released by the company indicates that the mobile phone has become a social crutch of sorts, especially among Generation Y (18-24 year olds).
InsightExpress surveyed 2,000 mobile device owners age 18+ online in October 2007. The findings reveal that Gen Y-ers use their mobile phones for approximately three quarters (76%) of all personal calls. Not surprisingly, this age group also engages in other mobile activities like texting, surfing the web and gaming. Now, this generation has found that the devices come in handy when they want to do anything but communicate.
Most mobile phone users are well aware of gaffes like loud talking and conversing in places like movie theaters and restaurants. Yet, Gen Y is apparently rewriting the definition of mobile manners. A healthy 38% of Gen Y-ers have pretended to talk on their mobile phone with nobody on the other end. Furthermore, 34% have arranged to have another person call their mobile device in order to rescue them from an unpleasant social situation.
Mobile phones also feed into the need for instant gratification, a characteristic that has been associated with Generation Y. Over half (56%) of Gen Y-ers have spent time looking for new things to do with their mobile phone while they were bored. But sometimes such easy access to friends and family can lead to distress for this age group; 47%of Gen Y-ers have sent a text message they regretted.
The mobile phone has apparently become like a panic button, used for 'rescue missions' in awkward social situations," says Joy Liuzzo, Director of Mobile Research at InsightExpress. It's clear that, as an extension of self, these omnipresent devices play a much broader role in the lives of young people, especially when it comes to interpersonal relationships, than simply voice or text communication."