According to new research findings, of the 75% of American teens who own cell phones, many use text messaging as their primary form of communication, with teen girls texting at an average daily rate of nearly three times that of teen boys. The study by Pew Internet and American Life Project indicates that text messaging has increased significantly amongst the 12-17 year old youth category, surpassing face-to-face communication, IM, cell phone calls and social networks.
The study shows that since early Feb 2008, text messaging use has increased from just under 40% of American teens to nearly 55%. Of this group, half are sending 50+ text messages per day. One third are sending over 100 messages per day. That’s over 3,000 per month. Text message use seems to appeal more to older teen girls (in this case, 14-17) and less to younger teen boys. See the graphs below to compare the year-to-year changes in use of various forms of communication, from 2006-2009.
It should be noted that the study was performed in 2009 with a supposedly representative sample of 800 American “teens”, 12-17 years-old, and their parents, in only four U.S. cities. Pew Internet also says that the “statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The report (PDF, 94 pages), released today, is available from Pew Internet.
Being a stats & data geek myself, I always find sample sizes that small to be suspect because there’s no way you can honestly claim 800 teens truly represents all the communications habits of the many millions of American teens. However, most parents of teens, and possibly their cell phone bills, can tell you that text messaging is indeed a very popular form of communication amongst youth, especially girls. (Text messaging is also finding its way into social games such as Mafia Wars.) The study is still worth a read, as it gives some insight into the different ways that teen males and females use text messaging to communicate sentiments.