When it comes to using text messaging, Americans used to lag behind the rest of the world. Now, however, it looks as if U.S. cell phone owners are doing their best to catch up with other nations. According to a new PEW Internet and American Life Project study, 73% of all adults in the U.S. who own a cell phone (that’s 83% of all adults, by the way) now use text messaging. Among those, 31% prefer texting over making voice calls (I definitely fall into that category). Unsurprisingly, a higher percentage of those who text the most also tend to prefer texting over voice calls. Overall, though, the growth in the number of average texts send per adult (41.5) is slowing after a major growth boom between the Fall of 2009 and the Spring of 2010 (29.7 to 39.1).
Younger and Older Adults Turn to Text Messaging
There is a clear delineation between how often young adults and older users utilize their text messaging plans, though. The actual numbers for adults between the ages of 18 and 24 are actually quite staggering: they reportedly send 3,200 text per month on average and clearly skew the average number in this study. Virtually all the younger users (95%) in this survey use text messaging on their phones.
It’s not just the younger adults who use SMS. Even those over 35 still send close to 26 messages a day on average (here, too, the most active users are skewing the numbers – the median is 10) and even those over 65 still send 4.7 SMS messages per day (median of 2).
It’s worth noting, though, that these numbers are self-reported (do you know exactly how many messages you sent last month?). Overall, self-reported data is often somewhat unreliable, so I would take this data with a grain of salt. What’s clear, though, is that texting is about as mainstream as it gets today, but it’s definitely not growing as rapidly as it was just a year ago.