Texting Replaces Talking for Younger Mobile Users: Pew Report

By Nathan Eddy  |  Posted 2011-09-20 Print this article Print

Heavy text users and young adults are much more likely to prefer texting to talking, a Pew Research report finds.

Some 83 percent of American adults own cell phones and three-quarters of them (73 percent) send and receive text messages, according to a report from The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. The organization also asked those texters in a survey how they prefer to be contacted on their cell phone, with 31 percent saying they preferred texts to talking on the phone, while 53 percent said they preferred a voice call to a text message.

However, heavy text users are much more likely to prefer texting to talking, the report found: Some 55 percent of those who exchange more than 50 messages a day say they would rather get a text than a voice call. This segment of those surveyed is most likely to be young adults--cell phone owners between the ages of 18 and 24 exchange an average of 109.5 messages on a normal day. That works out to more than 3,200 texts per month, while the typical or median cell owner in this age group sends or receives 50 messages per day (or 1500 messages per month).

Along with taking photos, text messaging is the most common non-voice application Americans use on their mobile phones. Some 73 percent of adult cell owners use the text messaging function on their phone at least occasionally (nearly identical to the 72 percent of cell owners who did so at a similar point in 2010). Text messaging users send or receive an average of 41.5 messages per day, with the median user sending or receiving 10 texts daily, the report noted.

Overall, the survey found that both text messaging and phone calling on cell phones have leveled off for the adult population as a whole. Text messaging users send or receive an average of 41.5 messages on a typical day, with the median user sending or receiving 10 texts daily - both figures are largely unchanged from what Pew Research reported in 2010. Similarly, cell owners make or receive an average of 12 calls on their cells per day, which is unchanged from 2010.

Like text messaging, voice calling has changed little on a year-to-year basis. Cell owners make or receive an average of 12.3 voice calls per day, with the median cell user engaging in five voice calls-both of these are largely unchanged from what was found in the May 2010 survey. However, voice calling remains extremely common overall, as just 4 percent of cell owners say that they make or receive no voice calls on an average day. By comparison 27 percent of cell owners do not use text messaging, even on occasion.

The report was based on the findings of a survey on Americans' use of the Internet. The results in the report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from April 26 to May 22, 2011, among a sample of 2,277 adults, age 18 and older.

Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at eWEEK.com. Before joining eWEEK.com, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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