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77% of U.S. Teens Now Own Cell Phones, Most Send at Least 60 Text Messages per Day

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About three quarters of U.S. teens (77%) now have a cell phone. This number is, according to a new report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, up slightly from September 2009 (75%). Looking back to 2004, though, it’s clear how this number has increased dramatically over the last few years. In late 2004, only 45% of teens had cell phones. The interesting trend here, though, is that 80% of older teens (14-17) now own mobile phones (and 31% of these older teens own smartphones), but that the number of younger teens with cell phones has actually dropped a bit (57% vs. 66%).

Unsurprisingly, teens from households with a higher income are more likely to own cell phones and while 83% of suburban kids now own a mobile phone, only 69% of kids in urban areas and 73% in rural areas own one.

The Pew study did not find a statistically relevant difference between boys and girls when it comes to cell phone ownership, but when it comes to texting, girls are still far heavier users than boys. The median number of texts per girl in this study was closer to 90, while boys only send about 50 (the mean numbers, it’s worth noting, are far higher and also far closer to each other: 165 for girls and 168 for boys). ¬†Unsurprisingly, those teens who send the most texts are also more likely to own a smartphone.

As for old-fashioned voice calls, teens – just like the rest of us – are slowly making fewer calls and most teens report that they mostly use text messages to socialize with the people in their lives:

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10:23 am


U.S. Adults Text More, But Growth is Slowing

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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).

Text messaging average per day 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.

Pew texting survey numbers adults

 

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8:15 pm