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Gen Z leaves phones on ‘do not disturb’ to avoid notification anxiety

Some Gen-Z-ers reportedly have phone call anxiety

Olivia Hebert
Los Angeles
Thursday 22 February 2024 07:14 GMT
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Gen-Z-ers have come clean about why they keep their phones on “Do Not Disturb” at all times.

Found on most mobile phones, the “Do Not Disturb” feature is used by those who block out notifications that could distract from work, studying, or a good night’s sleep. But some people online have admitted to using the feature to curb their anxiety.

On X, formerly known as Twitter, user Max Burns sparked an online debate when he wrote, “TIL that some Gen Z kids keep their cellphones on ‘Do Not Disturb’ 24/7, so they never have to face the anxiety of answering the phone.” According to Buzzfeed, Burns wrote the post after discussing the feature with two of his Gen-Z co-workers. They said they liked to have it on to avoid the anxiety of unwanted and unexpected calls.

Users in the comment section of the post sounded off, speaking about their own reasons for turning the feature on.

Although there were quite a few members of Gen-Z identifying with Burns’ tweet, some people said that it wasn’t necessarily a Gen-Z-specific habit.

“I don’t think it’s a Gen Z thing, I think it’s overall anxiety of being plugged in 24/7,” one person wrote. Another millennial added, “Calling someone on their cellphone when you aren’t in a life or death situation is disrespectful AF. Like, what makes you think you’re entitled to my attention right that moment?”

“My phone is always on DND with a whitelist,” someone from Gen X chimed in. “I don’t have time to deal with that crap. You’re whitelisted if I want to talk to you. Otherwise text or leave a message. Don’t email me either, unless it’s a contract.”

“I do this because I’m 40 and I don’t want to be f***ing bothered,” another Gen-X-er added.

Some people wrote that they put their phones on “Do Not Disturb” to avoid spam calls rather than general anxiety. “99% of calls are scammers, insurance fraud, and political spam,” one person explained. “1% is from my mom.”

“You sure it’s anxiety and not the fact that the public utility of the phone system has been completely taken over by spammers and is near useless?” someone else commented.

Phone call anxiety amongst Gen Z isn’t an unfounded theory, with a 2023 study indicating that 90 per cent reportedly feel anxious about talking to someone on the phone. Researchers attribute the anxiety and avoidance to the younger generation growing up with cell phones and smartphones rather than the landline telephones of the past. Because they didn’t grow up having to call as much, they lack phone etiquette and don’t feel as comfortable answering calls.

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