High school, *sigh*. It’s a time of happiness for some, a time of awkwardness for others, but it’s certainly the time when you’re at your peak popularity, right? Not so, according to science.

According to a study published in the Royal Society Open Science Journal, 25 is the age when you have the most people in your IRL social networks. The data was collected from a European cell phone carrier from 3.2 million users over a single year, then analyzed by the ages of everyone who received and sent cell phone calls in any given month.

The findings are pretty spot on with what is known to be true about how our social lives evolve with age: Our teens and early 20s are a period of collecting friends and finding similar interests, and thereafter the number of social interactions dwindle as people couple off, begin families and become absorbed in daily life.

phone friends

What’s really interesting about the study, however, is that men tend to have more interactions in their early 20s than women, and this flip flops in middle age. (One observation is that women are more inclined to have interactions with their adult children than men). Unfortunately, the study is limited by the fact that only calls were analyzed; our social scopes in this capacity tend to be lower — 15 close contacts instead of 1,500 on social networks, for example. Text messages, email and other forms of keeping in touch could yield slightly different results, although the contacts might not be as emotionally close. Regardless, the study is a pretty interesting snapshot of the natural arc of our social lives, and at the very least a good reminder to call your parents!

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(Photos via iStock)