Teens love SMS, study finds

2010-04-20 12:15

Washington - Text messaging has eclipsed the telephone call to become the most frequent form of communication among US teenagers, and girls send more than twice as many messages as boys, according to a new study.

The study by the Pew Research Centre's Internet & American Life Project and the University of Michigan released on Tuesday found that the average adolescent sends or receives 50 or more messages a day, or 1 500 texts per month.

Thirty-one percent send and receive more than 100 messages per day or more than 3 000 messages a month and 15% send more than 200 texts a day.

Girls tend to be much more avid texters than boys, typically sending and receiving 80 messages per day compared to 30 for boys, according to the survey of 800 teens aged 12 to 17 years old and their parents.

Seventy-five percent of teens aged 12 - 17 have cellphones, up from 45% in 2004, but they make calls much less often - about five per day - than they tap out texts.

Communications tool

Of the 75% of teens who own cellphones, 87% use text messaging at least occasionally, according to the survey conducted between June 2009 and September 2009.

The study found that text messaging has become the most frequent daily communications tool between teens, ahead of face-to-face meetings, e-mail, instant messaging and voice calls.

Two-thirds of teen texters are more likely to use their cellphones to text their friends than talk to them on the phone.

"The widespread availability of unlimited texting plans has transformed communication patterns of American teens," said Pew's Amanda Lenhart, a co-author of the report.

"This is a shift in the location and style of teens' communication with friends, not necessarily a radical change or expansion of it," she added.

While teens are texting more than ever, the telephone call does, however, remain the preferred mode that teens use to connect with their parents, the study found. The study also looked at some of the ways teens use their cellphones beyond texting and talking.

Eighty-three percent of teens with cellphones use them to take pictures, 60% use them to play music and 46% play games on their phones.


Twenty-seven percent use their phones to go online, 23% access social networking sites and 11% use their phones to buy things.

Sixty-four percent of the parents surveyed look at the contents of their child's cellphone and 62% have taken the device away as punishment.

Just over half - 52% - of parents limit the times of day their child may use their phone and 46% limit the number of minutes.

Forty-eight percent of parents use the phone to monitor their child's whereabouts and 98% of parents of cell-owning teens said a major reason their child has a phone is so they can constantly be in touch.

Thirty-four percent of teens aged 16 and 17 who text said they have texted while driving, while 52% of cell-owning teens said they have talked on a cellphone while behind the wheel.

The survey has a margin of error of four percentage points.

  • charlie62 - 2010-04-20 13:12

    rrrreally! it always amazes me how money can be wasted on research, the results of which I could have provided for free.

  • di - 2010-04-20 16:45

    Hope they didn't actually PAY some think tank to come up with this momentous conclusion!

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