I noticed it the first day of classes; I was late for my tram, hadn’t eaten breakfast, missed my stop, and stumbled off the tram before realizing I’d left my laptop at home, and even through all of that first day nightmare nonsense, I noticed it. Very few people actually used their phones while sitting on the tram.
In New York City, a fact of life is turning to your neighbor on the subway and seeing them on their phone checking Facebook or Twitter. Sure, every now and then you see someone sleeping, or staring off into space, but for the most part, people hop on the subway, find a spot to stand or sit, and grab their phone to do whatever it is they want to do. Everyone, at all times, was connected to their phone and the Internet. It was such a fact of life for me that when I did the began to read through my saved CNN pages on my phone, it became glaringly obvious I was not from around here.
I looked up and saw most people reading a book; staring off into the distance; handling their children and juggling their strollers; or, if they were with friends, talking quietly with each other. I had my phone slid away in my pocket without even realizing I was uncomfortable having it out. Phones, and social media, seemed to be the last thing on everyone’s mind. So what kinds of apps were these people using? Were they even using their smartphones? How was this affecting their lives differently then my own?
A quick search gave me the site Apptweak, which showed that the top apps of Czech Republic were mostly American: Minecraft, Mobile Strike, Clash Royale, and Candy Crush (I looked on the 22nd of Februray, and the apps have already changed a bit, but the Czech ones remain the same). There were very few Czech games – like Polda 6, Milionář (Česká) and Shakes and Fidget – that had made the top charts. They were overwhelmingly American-centric apps. It was also surprising to find that there were no top traveling apps for Prague – Expat shared an article listing top apps to use while traveling in Prague that locals were also using. Surprisingly, not a single one of these apps were in the top charts for the Expat page.
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram apps were also missing from the top charts – so I was left to wonder, what role did social media apps play in the grand scheme of phones? Another search lead me to this chart:
(Image courtesy of Gemius)
The answer: none. Though social media is missing from the chart above, it does not mean that the Czech people are disconnected from society. The chart above shows the follow news organizations, tabloids, catalogues, and all kinds of ways to absorb the news. They may not get it through social media like America has started to, but they still do get it. But they do not, it seems, really use social media.
Though this chart may be misleading for the younger generation: an article titled “How Tech is an Average Czech?” revealed that though the older generation (and Czech Republic) was lacking in the social media department, it’s younger generation was speeding the rest of the country along to catch up with the rest of Europe. This wasn’t surprising to find; I’d noticed on the metro that many people my age seemed to be on their phone, listening to music, texting, or calling a friend. But everyone who looked like they could have a kid, they were doing anything but looking at their phone.
Based on the top apps list and the data chart above, I realized that cellphone culture was much, much smaller on the transit here. In NYC, it’s shocking to see someone not on their phone. In Prague, it’s shocking to see someone on their phone.
That doesn’t mean using your phone is a bad thing; for many years now, America has been in a near constant tech war with Millenials and Gen. Z over smartphones and whether or not we should be using them. Whether the tech gap between the older and young generations in Prague may lead to a parallel version I can’t say, but should the younger generation continue to heavily use Facebook — 3.7 million, according to SocialBaker (, and still rising – it may lead to, at the very least, a greater awareness and usage of social media. Perhaps there’s a lack of cell phone (and social media) usage on transportation simply because they want to take in the sites and just enjoy the start of their day.