How Often Do Teens Text?

Researchers show that U.S. teenagers on average send or receive a half-dozen texts every wakening hour, which amounts to 3,339 messages per month. The Neilson Company shows that teens aged 13-17 text more often than people in any other age group. In this age group, girls exchanged the most texts, at 4,050 a month, while boys averaged 2,539 texts a month.

More than half of teens with cellular devices list texting as the most important thing they use their phone for. In fact, they list having a good QWERTY keyboard as their number one priority when buying a new cell. With so much attention on texting, voice calling among teens has fallen 14% from last year to an average of 646 minutes per month.

An older study shows that teens – or people of any age – who become obsessed with texting (or checking email) may have a compulsive-impulsive spectrum disorder and a form of addiction. Warning signs include:

  • Excessive use of the computer or of texting to the extent that you lose track of time or neglect eating and sleeping.
  • Feelings of withdrawal when your computer is not nearby that lead to anger, tension and depression.
  • A constant need for more time with your computer and to upgrade your equipment.
  • Experiencing a negative repercussion of the addiction such as ignoring others, fatigue, poor achievement, lying and getting into arguments.

94% of teenagers turn to their mobile phones for messaging, Internet, multimedia, gaming, and other activities, such as downloads. Software downloads increased 12 percentage points from a year ago, from 26% to 38%. Popular apps among teens include Facebook, YouTube, and Pandora, which streams music to mobile phones.

How many texts do you send and receive every month? Do you feel that that number is a good one? How do you feel about your texting habits?

T-Mobile Adds Kids are Free Plan to Help Your Budget

If you’re a parent, you know how difficult it is to maintain proper communications within your family these days. Kids are involved in more activities than ever. Parents are busier than ever. We cannot freeze time, and we cannot seem to get in touch every time we need to. Mobile plans aren’t cheap, and many families cannot afford to add lines to their plans so that their children can carry a phone with them. Those of you who don’t have children may scoff at the though of a child or teen needing a phone. Trust me, though – all of my friends who are parents will vehemently tell you that this is imperative.

T-Mobile understands that being able to add your kids to your phone plan often doesn’t work with your budget. They introduced the new Kids are Free program yesterday. With Kids Are Free, new and existing T-Mobile customers who sign up for a qualifying family plan through Nov. 2, 2010, receive free add-a-line service on up to three lines of their plan until 2012. “Not only is T-Mobile offering the most flexible and affordable family plans among national carriers today, we are also making it more affordable than ever for families to add their kids or other family members by eliminating the associated monthly service fee until 2012,” said Ashley White, marketing director of value offers at T-Mobile USA. “The up-front cost of purchasing new phones and dealing with monthly service fees for an entire family can add up quickly, so this promotion is designed to make it easier for families.”

The mobile carrier is offering a few other new plans this fall, as well:

  • Special deals on the latest devices. Starting today customers who purchase a Samsung Vibrant receive a second Samsung Vibrant for free after a $50 mail-in rebate with a two-year service agreement. Also, T-Mobile’s new line of messaging phones are all under $75 after a mail-in rebate with a two-year service agreement. Adding unlimited texting for the whole family is just $20 per month.
  • Different types of contracts:T-Mobile’s Even More® and no annual contract Even More Plus® family plans offer customers affordable options for their family’s wireless communication. T-Mobile’s Even More family plans start at $59.99 per month and T-Mobile’s Even More Plus family plans start at just $49.99 per month.
  • T-Mobile’s Family Allowances service lets parents set up-front monthly allowances for their family’s phone usage — minutes, messages, and downloads.

Does your child or teen have a cell phone? Does it put a painful dent in your monthly budget to keep them connected to you in this way?

Who Texts While Driving?

According to a new study, it’s not teens who text the most while driving. The guilty parties, actually, are adults. The Pew Research Center says that of those adults polled, 47 percent of respondents admit they either send or read messages while at the wheel of a vehicle.

Amongst teens aged 16 and 17, only about 34% tend to text while driving. Pew’s senior researcher, Mary Madden, said “There’s been a lot of focus on young drivers, and for good reasons. But this research provides an important reminder that adults are setting a bad example.” Several states already have a ban on texting while driving, and seven have banned the use of cell phones altogether while driving. However, the U.S. Senate is voting right now on banning texting nationwide.

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Do Teens Text Too Much?

According to a study done by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, young people between the ages of 12 and 17 send more than 100 texts a day. This may be due in part to the many unlimited plans offered by most cell companies. Texting beats out every other form of communication for this age group, including instant messaging, phone calls and face-to-face conversations.

Texting is also easy to get away with in certain situations. Kids text right under the noses of their teachers during school hours. Most of these kids are so good with their keyboards that they don’t even have to look at the device while composing and sending a message. Text messaging has become so much a part of teenagers’ lives that 87 percent of those who text said that they sleep with – or next to – their phones.

“It’s a way that their friends can easily and discreetly reach them at tiny moments during the day,” said Amanda Lenhart, senior research specialist at Pew. “It allows them to stay constantly in touch with people who are important to them. Texting is a much different experience than calling somebody on a land line, where you might get their parents. There’s an element of ownership for teenagers around texting.”

Teens feel that it’s easier to communicate with people when they cannot hear their voices or see their faces. As evidenced in several reports about this subject, teens will confront each other more often over issues via a text. It’s a good thing that they are talking more to each other, and seemingly becoming able to work through differences and difficulties without the hindrance and nerves that come with face-to-face confrontations.

However, I can’t help but wonder how this will affect these kids’ verbal communication skills later in life. We grew up having to talk to people… in person. Kids today are relying more heavily on digital methods of communication. Their “speech” is now defined with easy-to-remember word abbreviations, such as “wut r u doing.” I cringe every time someone sends me an email full of “language” such as this.

Another concern has to be privacy. Teens likely cling to their phones due to the fact that they feel they have more control over their content. It’s not as easy for parents to see what’s going on as it was when they could listen in on phone conversations. I admit that my mouth hit the floor when I read where one teen stated that his mom gave up trying to read his texts when she couldn’t crack his phone password. If this were my child, they would no longer HAVE a cell phone. While parents don’t necessarily need to “police” their children and know every single thing they are doing, they DO need to be aware of what’s going on in their child’s world.

What are your thoughts? Is widespread teen texting a good thing? Do you wonder how these kids will communicate in the “real world” when they become adults? Heck, will we even stop needing to communicate face-to-face in the future? Maybe I’m a fuddy-duddy. Perhaps everything will be digital one day, and we’ll never hear another human voice.