Not Surprisingly, U.S. Teens Are Texting More, Talking Less

Published on March 19, 2012
by Lauren Goode

ICYMI, teens are totes texting more.

And texting is increasingly becoming the communication application of choice for teens, while actually talking on the phone is on the decline.

The not-entirely-surprising data comes from the latest Pew Internet Research Center report, which included responses from nearly 800 U.S. teens, ages 12 to 17.

The study showed that the average number of texts sent by teens of all ages on a typical day rose from 50 a day to 60 a day between 2009 and 2011. Older teens, ages 14 to 17, showed an even greater increase, from a median of 60 texts a day in 2009 to a hundred texts a day in 2011.

And while 30 percent of teens said in 2009 that they used a landline to speak with friends, only 14 percent now say they talk on a landline daily. A third say they never use a landline (the study didn’t seem to offer data on those who asked, “What’s a landline?”). Even talking to friends on cellphones is edging down, from 38 percent in 2009 to just 26 percent in 2011.

Interestingly, though, the biggest texters were also the heaviest talkers, signaling that teens who are into their cellphones … are really into their cellphones.

In general, more teens now own some type of mobile device. Some 77 percent of U.S. teens now own some kind of cellphone, up 2 percent from a couple years ago. There’s no real difference in gender, it turns out, with boys and girls equally as likely to own cellphones, but younger boys — ages 12 and 13 — are the least likely to be early (early) adopters of cellphones.

Most teens are still using basic phones: Some 23 percent of those surveyed own smartphones, compared to 54 percent who own basic cellphones. But the patterns are shifting increasingly toward smartphones, especially among older teens.

Of course, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree: Just under half of U.S. adults now own smartphones, according to this recent report, outnumbering adults who own feature phones by 5 percent.

The new Pew study also shows that teens with parents who have higher education levels are more likely to own cellphones; teens in the ’burbs and teens who are very active on social media are also more likely to have mobile devices, Pew reports.

(Photo courtesy of Flickr/Ei Katsumata)

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