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Phone Calls Help Mental Health Despite Causing Some People Anxiety, Study Finds

CC0 / / Red phone
Red phone - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.01.2023
Telephobia is the fear of conversations over the phone and it’s a surprisingly common social anxiety disorder. The anxiety disorder is even more common among millennials, with a 2019 survey in the UK finding 76% of millennials and 40% of baby boomers felt anxious when hearing their phone ring.
Despite the fact that a majority of millennials are too anxious to make phone calls—with one study finding that 81% of millennials get apprehension anxiety before they're able to make a phone call—calling someone you feel close to and participating in a meaningful conversation on the phone can help one feel less lonely, and help young people reconnect with others.
According to Study Finds, anxiety and depression is on the rise among young adults, who felt the negative effects of loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic more than any other age group.
A study conducted between October 2020 and February 2021 found that areas with a higher concentration of people aged 16 to 24 had higher rates of loneliness. And while remote learning was able to be implemented in some environments when schools shut down, and some young people still had technology like computers and cellphones as a readily available tool to reconnect with their loved ones, not all forms of media communication were the same in improving one’s mental health.
Even before the pandemic a 2018 study by the BBC found 40% of 16 to 24-year-olds reported feeling lonely.
But certain forms of communication over the phone can alleviate those feelings of loneliness.
One study found that media interactions which incorporate a person’s voice such as video chat, phone calls or voice clips can create a stronger social bond when compared to texting or e-mailing. The study also found voice-based communications were no more uncomfortable than text-based communications.
Text-based conversations can also lead to confusion and misunderstandings because it doesn’t allow people to ask or answer questions in real time. The text-based form of communication can also make it harder for people to convey the tone of their messages.
However, in order for a person to increase their mental health and reduce feelings of loneliness the phone call should be with a person one has a meaningful relationship with whether it be a friend, partner, or family member.
John Cacioppo, a social neuroscientist, emphasizes that those who are lonely seek out meaningful connections with others—so a short, detached phone call won’t help alleviate those feelings of loneliness compared to one which is engaging or intimate.
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