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We use our phones to keep track of everything, whether it’s our calendars or our favorite new TV shows. It comes as no surprise, then, that our cell phone habits can be used to better understand social trends over the course of our lives.
According to research published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, a person’s cell phone usage for the purpose of communicating with others crests dramatically at a certain age then falls away. That age of so-called “peak popularity”? Twenty-five.
By analyzing a year’s worth of call records for 3.2 million customers of a European telecom company, the researchers found that when it comes to using our phones for their most basic of intentions (making phone calls), we’re rather modest in our promiscuity. “It … provides further indirect evidence for the fact that we use the phone to contact those who are emotionally closest to us rather than simply those who live furthest away,” the researchers noted.
At their most popular, men average 19 or so close contacts, while women average only about 16. The study finds that interestingly, men beat out women in cell phone sociality at this peak age, but around age 40, that dynamic flips, and women tend to use their phones more. The assumption there, according to the researchers, is that more women over 40 (possibly mothers) tended to be more active in maintaining contact with family members, including their potential children, than men are at this stage of life.
Now we just need to add texting to the study, and we’ll really be getting somewhere as far as understanding the cellular social patterns of the sexes. Bets on who takes the cake, anyone?