Survey: Most millennials, Gen Z adults prefer texting over talking in person

NEW YORK — If the emoji movie wasn’t symbolic enough of today’s youth, perhaps this will rattle your foundation: A new survey finds that 7 in 10 millennials and the younger Gen Z prefer to communicate digitally — mostly by text message — than in person.

Researchers at LivePerson, a business solutions provider, polled more than 4,000 young adults under between age 18 and 34 in a handful of Western nations, helping them discover the priorities and preferences of today’s millennials and Gen Z.

Young women using smartphones
A new survey finds that 7 in 10 millennials and those who make up the younger Gen Z cohort prefer to communicate digitally with others than in person.

Globally, 65 percent of those surveyed indicated they talk to peers more frequently via texting or a mobile, but that number is even higher in English-speaking nations. In both the United States and in the United Kingdom, about 74 percent of millennials and Gen Z communicate digitally more frequently with others.

As for the tool of choice for digital correspondence, about 73 percent of Americans and 74 percent of those in the UK prefer text messages. That number dipped to about 69 percent globally.

The survey also discovered another odd quirk of today’s young adults: about 62 percent would rather forget their wallet at home than their phone when going out.

Seventy percent of the participants said that they slept within arm’s length of their phone, and a  hair more than half said they’d check their phone for any notifications should they wake up in the middle of the night.

When it comes to bathroom breaks, nearly 66 percent brought their device with them to the toilet, which highlights the ubiquity of connectivity.

Large minorities believed it was fine to use their phone in contexts that would likely be considered improper by elders, such as at the dining table (42 percent) or in the middle of a conversation (28 percent).

Nearly 70 percent of the group surveyed said they could see a future in which all purchases are made online, and most young consumers prioritized using technology when they needed assistance with a product or service.

“We wanted to look more closely at the younger consumer audience, across different countries, and in more depth than the well-known trope that young people love their smartphones,” says Rurik Bradbury, LivePerson’s global head of communications and research, of the study’s origins, in a press release. “What we see in the research data is the phone truly becoming an extension of the self, and the platforms and apps within it— digital life— occupying more than their offline interactions.”

The poll reached millennials and Gen Z members across six countries— the U.S., the UK, Australia, France, Germany, and Japan — in mid-September.

Administered by independent research firm Survata, participants received no compensation for their input.


  1. I look at it as being a defence mechanism. It’s a way for people to keep a really demanding world at a controllable “arms length.” I’m not suggesting it’s good or bad. But I’m beginning to understand why folks put themselves behind a firewall.

  2. As a 29-year old Millenial, I’m actually surprised by how LOW those findings are (with only ~73% of 18-34 year old Millenials indicating their preferred form of digital communication).
    Even though the study included ~4,000 participants, I would bet significant amounts of money that 89%+ of younger participants (i.e. 18-25 years old) prefer digital over non-digital communications. The reason comes from my background in teaching across several different states, and working with students ages 6-18. Yes, the direct implication of that statement is a clear majority of young children have cell phones, and that “majority” will be become the “overwhelming majority” within 3-5 years.
    In other words, the study missed the mark. Older participants (age 30+) are somewhat less likely to prefer digital communication, as they can remember, “A Time Without Digital Communication” – including no cell phones, tablets, smartwatches, laptops, instant messenger/chatrooms, “You’ve got mail!,” online dating, etc. In fact, the most portable digital items I had were Tamagachis/Digimons and Game Boys (remember those?). More communication was done via phone call, or (for older citizens) letter writing. And, yes, I am a member of that generation; I very clearly remember life prior to the digital revolution and immersion into our lives.
    For that reason, the Millenials (born 1980-2000) can be thought of as in the following groups:
    Oldest Millenials (born 1980-1984) – Lesser preference for digital communication; clearest memories of the pre-digital era of all Millenials
    Middle Millenials (born 1985-1992) – Could go either way; still have clear memories of the pre-digital era, but lesser in pre-digital quantity and impact on way of living
    Younger Millenials (born 1993-1995) – Greater preference for digital communication; fewer to no memories of the pre-digital era, with pre-digital impact having negligible impact on way of living
    Youngest Millenials (born 1995-2000) – Greatest preference for digital communication; no memories of the pre-digital era, as memories must be handed down from older Millenials (above) and previous generations.

  3. good luck nailing that job interview via text. unless it’s for starbucks or the apple store. which is where you millennials belong. and stop looking at me like im a kook when i ask for a regular coffee.

  4. Too easy to be offensive and not pay the price- digitally, while at the same time claiming to be offended by anything and everything. All part of the immature irresponsible nature that’s being taught to kids these days.

  5. I’ll admit I rarely talk on the phone anymore. A quick text is just so much more convenient. But, still nothing is as pleasurable as having a good face to face conversation with an old friend.

  6. As an adult…I truly feel sorry for this up and coming generation…
    It’s no longer a “couch potato” concern as it was for my age bracket…but now has become a “house potato” scenario where Snowflakes and such will “live” detached from human interaction embracing digitized communication done so in the confines of four walls…

  7. Two generations that are, for all intents and purposes, socially dysfunctional. And they wonder why people call them snowflakes.

  8. When parents give kids cell phones at the age of 5 or 6, what can you expect?
    When the parents are texting at dinner and ignoring the kids, what can you expect?
    This is the “devolution” of society and the rise of mass social programming wherein, what
    you see on your phone must be reality. Orwell would be proud.

  9. Texting is not communicating . 70% of communication is non verbal. One wonders if they are afraid of the intamacy of real communication.

  10. I never want to do what others are doing. I stare at a computer at work so I don’t want to play with a phone in my free time. No one is doing anything very important on these phones. I just see people checking the junk email and playing games. When I get into a taxi or go to a store, everyone wants to talk to me because I am looking around and present in the moment, not tuned out on a device. I am a rarity these days and like it. I will rule the world because I know how to speak and communicate without a device. Now I know why everyone wants to talk to me- a human without a device is such a rare thing these days.

  11. Remember that modern education has been molded by former terrorist Bill Ayres and other leftists. The youth are being groomed to be hypnotized drones, another step toward slavery.

  12. Sad commentary on Gen Z. It’s hard to carry on a conversation with them face to face and the phones not a continual distraction. It really is a type of disability.

  13. And the final solution is to hire digital robots to do the work of the increasingly socially inept I see every time I go into a fast food place. I’d rather deal with a robot than some snotty nosed pukes that think I owe them something just for breathing.

  14. Nothing new. People have been communicating digitally for thousands of years,,, I see it all the time when driving…

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