Cellphones: Do They Help or Hurt Social Gatherings?

people using phones in a group

A new survey from the Pew Research Center measured whether people think that cellphones help or hinder conversations in a social settings. The study mentions "82% of all adults (not just cell owners)" find phone usage in social gatherings to hurt the conversation and atmosphere of the time. Only 18% of people surveyed said that it rarely or hardly ever hurt conversation.

The survey also found a difference in opinions between races and genders. Women, especially white women, had the highest dissatisfaction with phone usage during social gatherings. In fact, "52% of women age 50 and older say that cellphone use at social gatherings “frequently” hurts the occasion; similarly, 35% of women in that age bracket say that cellphone use “never” contributes to a gathering." Age also played into the survey, as the 65 and older participants reported that cellphones harm gatherings. The survey showed that there was a difference between races, as well, with whites at 85% agreeing that the presence of a cellphone is a hindrance, followed by 76% of Hispanics and 71% of African Americans.

According to the survey, men made and took more calls during social gatherings then women. Overall, men seemed to be more active on their phones when out with people. 

In the end, 78% of those surveyed said they used their phone with the goal of engaging and interacting with others in the group, though the majority agreed that cellphone usage generally distracts from group settings.