Is it true seniors don’t text and Millennials never talk when it comes to cell phones?

 As a teenager I talked to my friends on telephones with actual cords. It was hard to find a private space to talk if you didn’t want Mom listening in. The phones were bulky and heavy but they were the lifeline to our social world.

Phones play a much bigger role in the lives of Millennials than our rotary phones ever did. Their phones are their identity. They hold the key to life for them – their contacts, news sources, photos and, of course, their social media accounts.

With the rise of texting, Messenger and Instagram, some of the older generation wonder if young people ever talk on the phone anymore. They also question if young people have enough phone skills to succeed in the business world.

Thinking that phone conversations may be going the way of handwritten notes, we recently spoke to several Millennials and a few 80-somethings to get their take on the text vs. talk debate. We’ve compiled their answers and offer them as a collective below. What we found challenges assumptions about both age groups.

 

Myth: Millennials Don’t Talk on the Phone, Seniors Don’t Text

Millennials Say:  It’s hard to group an entire generation, but the frequency of phone calls has decreased due to texting. It’s not a bad change because texting has a lot of advantages, but the dependency on texting has also triggered some anxiety for us about talking on the phone. You’re expected to have a conversation right then and there when you may not be prepared with the answers. Some Millennials enjoy talking on the phone. But texting is definitely more convenient because we don’t have to stop what we’re doing to return the text like we would if we answered a call.

Seniors Say:  It’s not a Millennial or a senior thing. Some people from both generations are on the phone for hours. Others don’t like to talk on the phone at all and avoid it.

 

Myth: Millennials Only Text, Seniors Only Call 

Seniors say phone calls are preferred for long conversations. Texting is good for short spurts.

Seniors:  Phone calls are absolutely preferred for long conversations and when there’s a lot to say. But texting is convenient and good for short spurts. To say seniors don’t text is incorrect, but texting is still a rarity among our age group.

Millennials:  If it’s not time sensitive, we like to text especially for quick interactions that only include a little information. We also prefer texting for catching up on life events with friends because it’s a more casual way of connecting. They can reply to you when they’re available. However, if we need to connect with someone quickly, we’ll call. Talking on the phone is also preferred when we’re making detailed plans so there’s no confusion. But the reality is we don’t spend as much time talking as we do texting.

 

Myth: We’re Losing Our Ability to Communicate as a Society Due Technology

Millennials:  We disagree with this statement. We think we still communicate but we’re doing it differently. The way we communicate has changed, just like it has always changed with any new technology. Different guidelines and social norms have come into play, especially in the dating scene. It used to be “You have to wait a day before you call.” Now it’s “You can’t reply to his/her text immediately.”

Seniors:  Some of us see no problem with the way people communicate now as a result of new technology. Others say technology has definitely changed our way of communicating – and not for the better.

 

Myth: Phone Calls Are Becoming Passé

Seniors:  Most of us think phone calls will always serve an important function while others say they’re dying out.

Millennials:  Phone calls aren’t necessarily passé. They’re still useful and effective for communication in certain situations but they’ve mostly been subverted by text. Calls are a rarity and considered special.

 

Myth: Different Generations Have Trouble Communicating With Each Other

Millennials:  We don’t think communication suffers whether you’re talking or texting with the older generation. But seniors who don’t text may experience a cultural divide from those who do — whether Millennial or senior. Some of our Gen X bosses (and even older) prefer a text rather than email or waiting to talk to them in person. A text reaches the palm of their hand instantly. They receive the message, glance at the phone and can reply within a matter of seconds. Their busy schedules and high volume of emails make texting the most streamlined form of communication.

Even within our own age group, conveying the proper tone via text can be a problem. Some language translates and some doesn’t. The issue boils down to the absence of eye contact, facial expressions and non-verbal cues. Misunderstandings exist when communicating via technology no matter how old you are.

Seniors:  Because most of us aren’t in the workplace anymore, immediate communication isn’t as important as it is for Millennials. We usually speak directly with everyone, regardless of their age. We have noticed one trend that drives most of us crazy though:  younger people tend to speak so rapidly we find it difficult to understand them. Please speak slowly and clearly!

Some Surprising Stats:

Seniors Don't Text and Millennials Don't Talk