Kids, you've heard of phone calls, right? Did you know that there's an app on your smartphone that lets you talk out loud to family and friends? Ask your grandparents about it.
We're being facetious, but it's true that the stereotype of a chatty teen or young adult spending hours talking on the phone is fading. Those interactions are being replaced by the image of a kid hunched over a handset, tapping out texts, emails, or Facebook messages.
Two new pieces of research highlight just how common that image has become.
A British study conducted by independent media regulator Ofcom found that among 16- to 24-year-olds, phone calls are being superseded by texts or other e-messages. Per the research, 96 percent use some form of text-based communication -- either though social networks (73 percent) or through traditional texting (90 percent) -- on a daily basis. By comparison, only 67 percent of that age group talks on the phone daily. Overall, total time spent on the phone declined 5 percent for Britons of all ages, the first such drop since the 1990s, according to The Guardian.
And new research from Pew finds similar trends among teens stateside. As NBC News explains, 63 percent of teens text every day, compared to only 39 percent making or taking cell phone calls daily. And it seems social networking (29 percent daily use) and instant messaging (22 percent) are increasingly taking up U.S. teens' time, too.
Taken together, these studies appear to foreshadow a time in the not-so-distant future when text-based messages are the norm and phone calls are thought of as a quaint, nonessential way to get in touch.
In fact, that day may come sooner than you think, if the chief executive of one of the largest American phone carriers is to be believed. "I'll be surprised if, in the next 24 months, we don't see people in the market place with data-only plans," AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said at a conference in June. "I just think that's inevitable."
Consider it the beginning of the end of the phone call as we know it, with teens leading the trend.