It’s something everyone suspected, but now it’s official: The under-30 crowd is addicted to their cell phones.
Those are the findings of a new survey, which showed that as millennials spend more time engaged on social media platforms, it’s causing them to be less social in real life. The study, conducted by Flashgap, a photo-sharing application with more than 150,000 users, found that 87 percent of millennials admitted to missing out on a conversation because they were distracted by their phone. Meanwhile, 54 percent said they experience a fear of missing out if not checking social networks.
Nearly 3,000 participants were asked about how they felt about social media in social settings, and found that the guiltiest culprits are often females. The study found 76 percent of females check social media platforms at least 10 times when out with friends, compared with 54 percent of males.
The most commonly used apps mentioned in social settings among millennials were Snapchat, Tinder, Facebook, Messenger and Instagram.
Julian Kabab, co-founder of FlashGap said that people are too focused on looking at social media when they’re out at events, and it may be costing them in social interaction. “People miss out on parties because they want to see what’s going on, on social networks, take beautiful selfies and add filters to their pictures,” he told CNBC.
It especially becomes a problem when there is alcohol involved and regrets the next morning. The survey found that 71 percent of users regret posting a picture on a social network after more than three drinks.
FlashGap’s findings echo a similar study conducted in 2014, where research suggested that cell phones were increasingly undermining personal interactions. The widely circulated Virginia Tech University report said that “the presence of mobile technologies has the potential to divert individuals from face-to-face exchanges, thereby undermining the character and depth of these connections.”
Concerns are growing that the practical impact of mobile device use is making humans more interested in their online lives, and less interested in each other. Yet Kebab told CNBC his intent for FlashGap was to help millenials make their experiences more relevant in real life.
In college, Kabab said he and his friends had strapped on GoPro cameras during parties and would gather the next day to watch one another’s footage. “The experience was so fun that I said that we had to scale this emotion with an app,” Kebab, whose company has 14 employees and is based in Paris.
“Discovering parts of your nights out you didn’t see at the same time as your friends felt exactly like the end scene of ‘The Hangover’ movie, and that’s when it clicked,” he said.
FlashGap is entering a hotly competitive space where any of the big players vying for millennials’ eyes already have a head start. The app was launched in France and recently raised $1.5 million in seed round funding to branch out to the United States.
The dominance of Facebook, Instagram and Messenger, all owned by Facebook, and Snapchat, valued at $16 billion by some estimates, raising questions as to how easy it might be for new entrants to get into the space.
“Shifting behaviors in a core audience are certainly factors as we consider investments,” Ellie Wheeler, a venture capitalist at Greycroft, told CNBC. “We’re seeing a lot of interesting ways to deliver mobile-first content and how that content needs to change in order to be right for mobile behavior.”
Wheeler acknowledges that social sharing is still an increasingly important piece of a person’s online identity.
“It is something that a generation that has grown up with social from day one has to learn in a way that past generations have not,” Wheeler said.