Teens, Cell Phones and Texting
Text Messaging Becomes Centerpiece Communication
by Amanda Lenhart, Senior Research Specialist, Pew Internet & American Life Project
April 20, 2010
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Summary of Findings
The mobile phone has become the favored communication hub for the majority of American teens.1
Cell-phone texting has become the preferred channel of basic communication between teens and their friends, with cell calling a close second. Some 75% of 12-17 year-olds now own cell phones, up from 45% in 2004. Those phones have become indispensable tools in teen communication patterns. Fully 72% of ...view middle of the document...
* Teen texters ages 12-13 typically send and receive 20 texts a day.
* 14-17 year-old texters typically send and receive 60 text messages a day.
* Older girls who text are the most active, with 14-17 year-old girls typically sending 100 or more messages a day or more than 3,000 texts a month.
* However, while many teens are avid texters, a substantial minority are not. One-fifth of teen texters (22%) send and receive just one to 10 texts a day or 30 to 300 texts a month.
Calling is still a central function of the cell phone for teens, and for many teens voice is the primary mode of conversing with parents.
Among cell-owning teens, using the phone for calling is a critically important function, especially when it comes to connecting with their parents. But teens make and receive far fewer phone calls than text messages on their cell phones.
Teens typically make or receive five calls a day. White teens typically make or receive four calls a day, or around 120 calls a month, while black teens exchange seven calls a day or about 210 calls a month and Hispanic teens typically make and receive five calls a day or about 150 calls a month.
Girls more fully embrace most aspects of cell phone-based communication.
As we see with other communicative technologies and applications, girls are more likely than boys to use both text messaging and voice calling and are likely to do each more frequently.
* Girls typically send and receive 80 texts a day; boys send and receive 30.
* 86% of girls text message friends several times a day; 64% of boys do the same.
* 59% of girls call friends on their cell phone every day; 42% of boys call friends daily on their cell phone daily.
Girls are also more likely than boys to text for social reasons, to text privately and to text about school work.
* 59% of girls text several times a day to "just say hello and chat"; 42% of boys do so.
* 84% of girls have long text exchanges on personal matters; 67% of boys have similar exchanges.
* 76% of girls text about school work, while 64% of boys text about school.
For parents, teens' attachment to their phones is an area of conflict and regulation.
Parents exert some measure of control over their child's mobile phone -- limiting its uses, checking its contents and using it to monitor the whereabouts of their offspring. In fact, the latter is one of the primary reasons many parents acquire a cell phone for their child. However, with a few notable exceptions, these activities by parents do not seem to impact patterns of cell phone use by teens.
* 64% of parents look at the contents of their child's cell phone and 62% of parents have taken away their child's phone as punishment.
* 46% of parents limit the number of minutes their children may talk and 52% limit the times of day they may use the phone.
* 48% of parents use the phone to monitor their child's location.3
* Parents of 12-13 year-old girls are more...