Texting is the preferred method of communication between American teenagers, the latest Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project report has found–and they’re sending and receiving thousands a month.
Eight hundred 12- to 17-year-olds and their parents were surveyed for three months last year for a survey by Pew, and while the fact that almost three-quarters of them use cell phones is impressive–proving to be both help and hindrance to their parents–it is the minutiae of the figures that prove to be utterly astonishing.
- The average teen texter exchanges 1,500 texts each month, with an average of 50 per day.
- Girls are more voracious texters than boys, sending an average of 80 messages a day compared to boys’ 30.
- Older girls (14-17) can get through 100 texts a day, or 3,000 a month.
- 21% of teenagers access the Internet only from their cell phones.
- 65% of teens at schools where phones are routinely banned bring their mobiles to school every day, with 58% having sent a text message during class.
As well as wearing out the whorls on their fingerprints, teens use their phones for other purposes. Going online, exchanging video and photos, video gaming, instant messaging, and buying stuff all figure highly, with 83% of the kids surveyed using the camera, and almost a quarter of them accessing social networking sites.
For parents, the advent of mobile phones has been something of a double-edged sword. Almost two-thirds of them say that they check their child’s cell regularly, and 62% of them have removed the phone as punishment. Over half of them limit their kids’ use of the phone, while just under half use the phone to monitor their child’s location. Unsurprisingly, however, kids prefer to call their parents, rather than texting them.
Rich Ling, a professor at the IT University of Copenhagen, and who co-authored the report, sees cellphones as a vital tool for teenagers. “In a short time, they [cell phones] have moved from being a fancy toy in a few teens’ lives to favored communications hubs for most teens that are vitally important to nourishing their ties to friends and coordinating complicated family lives. The changes in communications patterns are not smooth, though, because teens’ use of cell phones disrupt traditional social relations and social expectations.”