Is talking on your cell phone a thing of the past?

Published: June 5, 2011

Back when cell phones were first invented, they served one main purpose: making calls. Those who were willing to cough up an arm and a leg were fortunate enough to place a phone call from nearly anywhere at any time. Luckily, times have changed and phones are no longer the size of a decent brick or no longer require carrying around an enormous, weighty bag.

Lucky for me, I skipped over those times and was introduced to the cell phone world as it is today, for the most part. My first smartphone was a BlackBerry and it definitely wasn't limited to just making phone calls. I could text message someone, send emails, browse the Internet (at breakneck 2G/3G BlackBerry speeds), and install applications and games on my phone.

It's almost crazy looking back just a few years ago to see how far we've come in such a short time. But the features and capabilities aren't the only changes the cell phone has experienced; the way they are used in everyday life has completely changed, too.

Back when I was going through my Best Buy Mobile training, we were handed a couple sheets of statistics and poll results that had recently been taken. Seeing as it was nearly two years ago, I can't remember the exact figures, but what the papers entailed were the results of studies that said people are using their cell phones and smartphones less and less for calling and that it has been on a decline for some time. This is only one of the several studies that has been done; I'm positive other results show similar trends.

In all honesty, these results should hardly come as a surprise. The way we stay connected has entirely changed and the simple fact is that it isn't always convenient to call someone. Instead, it can be much quicker and easier to shoot somebody a text message rather than getting on the phone, working through several minutes of unrelated and meaningless banter just to ask a simple question.

What's even more sad is that sometimes it's easier to open up the Facebook app and send someone a message or open a chat with them to get a quick answer. Or if it's work-related, sending an email saves both me and the recipient a ton of time. I use calling as a last resort.

It's just extremely ironic that the devices that were originally invented to enable us to make calls from anywhere at any time have evolved into tools that we commonly use for everything but making calls. I have two different lines with two different wireless providers and on a monthly basis, my minutes used rarely exceed 50 minutes. It's probably much lower than that on average. This is simply because I use almost every other way of communicating before I will call someone.

That said, some claim that this decline in voice calling is a result of the recent attention radiation emittance of cell phones has gotten. (Get out your tin foil hats, folks.) This has always been around and will probably always be around when it comes to cell phones. Reporters have just done a much better job of making it known lately. We've been using cell phones for countless years now. The FCC has strict guidelines when it comes to radiation emittance and will not pass a phone if it fails those tests. At least that should make you feel a little better, right?

Whether you believe one reason or the other ... or both, it doesn't really matter. Fact is, voice calls are declining and everything else is flourishing, even video calling, despite how inconvenient that actually is. The good news is (especially for those that are still heavy callers), while other things like text messaging and data plans prices rise and move towards tiered structures, this trend could lead to the lowering of calling plans and rates across the board.

So tell me, PhoneDogs, do you still use your phone for calling? Or do you find yourself using your phone for everything else and making the occasional call when all else fails? Also, (a bit off topic here, but I'm curious) do you leave voicemails when you call and get no answer? Or do you hang up and fire off a text, like me?

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