3 Reasons to Phone a Friend Today

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Young women video chat with each other.

December 28 is National Call a Friend Day

Many people would rather send a text than make a call and it shows.

Americans spend, on average, five more minutes per day texting (26 minutes) versus calling (21 minutes), by some estimates.(1) Among Americans younger than 50, sending and receiving text messages is the most used method of communication, according to a 2014 Gallup poll.(2)

While we can all admit that texting is an easy way to connect with friends and family, that doesn’t mean it’s always the best way. Here are 3 reasons why you shouldn’t “phone it in” on National Call a Friend Day.

1. You need an Out-of-Town Contact

Seize National Call a Friend Day as an opportunity to ask a friend to be your family’s Out-of-Town Contact during an emergency.

Peace of mind (the kind earned through pre-planning) can help you stay calm in an emergency. If you and your family are separated during or by a sudden disaster, you will want to know where your loved ones are and if they’re okay and vice versa. An Out-of-Town Contact is someone who lives outside of the immediate area—preferably in another state—that can help family members stay connected when it is easier to make a long-distance phone call than a local one.

Include the name and contact information, including social media handles, of your Out-of-Town Contact in your family’s Emergency Action Plan. It’s important that you also write down contact information for your physician, pediatrician, pharmacist, caregiver, veterinarian, and others.

2. Conversation is a powerful coping tool

Connecting with friends and family through phone calls and video chats is a means of self-care that can help you and your loved ones feel less alone or isolated in stressful situations, like the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’s holiday season may be a difficult and stressful time for many. Being away from family and friends during the winter holidays can be hard.

CDC recommends hosting a virtual celebration with friends and family who do not live with you. A virtual meeting might also be a good time to talk about how you and they are feeling. The How Right Now campaign has tips for how to have a meaningful conversation and listen with compassion any time of year.

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. If you or a loved one is feeling overwhelmed, get support. The Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7 confidential, free emotional support. If you or someone you know needs emotional support, call or text 1-800-985-5990.

3. Talking improves preparedness

A survey taken by FEMA in 2014 showed that talking about preparedness had a “strong positive relationship with preparedness behavior;” but that less than half of respondents had done so in the 2 years leading up to the survey.(3) The researchers concluded that “opportunities for people to discuss preparedness should be enhanced [sic].”

National Call a Friend Day is an opportunity to talk to your family about how to communicate during a disaster, to your child’s school administrator about their family reunification plans, and to your healthcare provider about how to create an emergency supply of essential prescriptions.

Regular conversations like these about matters of preparedness and response can help you plan ahead in ways that can save you time, money, and worry during an emergency.

For more information on how to prepare your health for emergencies, visit https://www.cdc.gov/prepyourhealth/.



  1. https://www.textmagic.com/blog/text-messaging-statistics-for-businesses/?sscid=c1k4_k2em4
  2. https://news.gallup.com/poll/179288/new-era-communication-americans.aspx
  3. https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1409000888026-1e8abc820153a6c8cde24ce42c16e857/20140825_Preparedness_in_America_August_2014_Update_508.pdf


Thanks in advance for your questions and comments on this Public Health Matters post. Please note that the CDC does not give personal medical advice. If you are concerned you have a disease or condition, talk to your doctor.

Have a question for CDC? CDC-INFO (http://www.cdc.gov/cdc-info/index.html) offers live agents by phone and email to help you find the latest, reliable, and science-based health information on more than 750 health topics.

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9 comments on “3 Reasons to Phone a Friend Today”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    Thank you all for your helpful tips. I have never thought to have this plan in place for my family. I recognize that individuals such as myself would prefer to text than call. I know that I am weeks late but, I plan utilizing the information that you all have presented to me.
    As a nurse I have noticed that this is trying times for many people. During hospital admissions in the last year or so family was not able to visit only call to check on loved ones. I believe that having this outside connection and tool in place during emergencies such as the pandemic will provide reassurance for some people”.

    As a nurse in the ICU dealing with COVID patients, I have had to isolate myself from those I love and even live in the same house hold with to protect them. Having the ability to phone friends and family has made isolation less lonely. Phone a friend, you may be making their day or even saving their life.

    Thanks for the information! I agree that conversation is a powerful coping tool that could also be used to assess family and friends while we are in the middle of a pandemic battling the loss of loved ones, confinement while working from homes and isolation for those who are positive for COVID or just live alone. Sometimes, a text is not enough. We need to hear the person’s voice and actively listen for cues of well-being or distress; besides, it is nice to know in our day to day lives someone has taken the time to call. Mental health is important. It is important to voice concerns and to receive encouragement from friends and family. Owning our feelings with the people we trust can be done with video calls or a simple phone call. For those who suffer from mental health issues, times like this can exacerbate feelings of anxiety and stress, leading to suicide. Speaking with someone via telephone and or video call allows for an assessment that is not available through the text, like paying attention to verbal and nonverbal tones. It is easy to misread or misinterpret a text.

    Thank you for the great information! During a pandemic the best tool to use is the power of voice. The ability to speak to your friends, neighbors or even a stranger can make all the difference in the world to that person. Many people have lost friends and loved ones during this time without the ability to say goodbye. Reaching out to someone by text isn’t the same as hearing a friendly and loving voice during that time. When being isolated from the world it makes the days longer and more gloomy, making many who have no history of mental health issues depressed; and those who already suffer from depression even worse. We also have FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, SnapChat video chat, Instagram video messenger and multiple other options for face-to-face with people. For those who may be contemplating suicide this may make all the difference to them and may stop them from going to that extreme if you are able to see them or hear their voice. This is not something you can get in a text message. Think of your elderly neighbor that may have just lost her husband due to covid. Just the phone call saying I’m here if you need someone to talk to may be all she needs to push through the day.

    Working as a nurse or any healthcare professional can be difficult at this time during the COVID-19 pandemic. The amount of death that we have seen related to this virus can be overwhelming at times, putting us in a different mental state. A simple phone call and hearing the voice of a loved one can be just enough encouragement to make it through sometimes. I’m not speaking for only nurses or healthcare workers, but the world as a whole. This past year has been tough on everyone. We should all take time to call and check in on the ones that we love. We never know what someone else is going through and a phone call can make a world of difference.

    Having an out-of-town contact is a very smart idea and thankfully since I have moved away from home, my family is my out-of-town contact. But another thing for new nurses traveling to consider is having a trustworthy in town contact. This can be more difficult to establish when you are new to the area. Video chats have been a great tool to stay in touch but sometimes the plain old talking in front of a camera can get boring. My family and friends have come up with other activities to do while on a zoom call such as hosting a wine and paint night together, hosting a movie watch party, finding a new recipe, and cooking it together, and even online gaming has been a big activity that I am getting into. Having a preparedness talk is a strategy that I have not tackled yet. It would be important for me to have a plan if I need to relocate or who will take care of my pets if I need to stay an extended time at the hospital.

    I am grateful for the light and positivity within this blog. It is such a great reminder that communication is still the one of the most important areas in success. Preparing for every worst case scenario with another person, especially someone outside the home, can prevent major catastrophes from developing. This blog also highlighted the importance of checking in with loved ones during this isolating time. While reaching out to someone you love you are checking-in on their wellbeing and within this call you have the opportunity to prepare and help them prepare too. This simple act of genuine kindness has the opportunity to lift spirits of those deeply impacted by Covid19. The effects of this isolation ring louder for some already dealing with mental health issues or those that have lost loved ones during this challenging time.

    I think this article gives great advice and recognition to reaching out and verbally speaking with friends. Especially with the current pandemic that is going on, it helps to hear/see a familiar face. Not being allowed to travel as we would have in the past, makes it hard for us to see our loved ones. From a nurses perspective, it has been difficult seeing older or young loved ones especially with their risk. Being a nurse who works directly with COVID patients, puts me in a tough place with feeling comfortable seeing high risk loved ones. Giving a friend or family member a call makes me feel just a bit more closer than sending a text.
    In the U.S the suicide rate sits at 14.5 per 100,000 since 2019(Suicide Risk in the COVID-19 Pandemic | Johns Hopkins Psychiatry Guide, 2019). It was expected that during this pandemic the suicide rates would increase, as they did in previous pandemics. Research shows that there was not a decline nor increase in the suicide rates throughout the countries affected. Even though there was no actual factual research showing an increase, it still does not change the fact your loved one might be struggling. The one phone call might change someone’s thoughts, so don’t forget to pick up your phone and call a friend.

    Three great reasons to phone a friend rather than text. I personally don’t like to text unless it’s something quick, like letting someone know I made it home safely. I would rather have a phone conversation because texts can be interpreted wrong and that can lead to miscommunication. Unfortunately, our current world is less social, more digitalized, and less patient. Phone conversations especially with the current pandemic situation we are in are very important in helping to keep people connected. There are social and travel restrictions that have caused many people with compromised emotional and mental health. Conversations over the phone can help people who are feeling isolated, depressed, or anxious by talking it out with someone.

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Page last reviewed: December 23, 2020
Page last updated: December 23, 2020