Cell Phone Use

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Teens and Mobile Phones
Text messaging explodes as teens embrace it as the centerpiece of their communication strategies with friends.

April 20, 2010
Amanda Lenhart, Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project Rich Ling, ITU, Copenhagen, Telenor and University of Michigan Scott Campbell, University of Michigan Kristen Purcell, Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project

http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Teens-and-Mobile-Phones.aspx Pew Internet & American Life Project An initiative of the Pew Research Center 1615 L St., NW – Suite 700 Washington, D.C. 20036 202-419-4500 | pewinternet.org

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 and cell calling is 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 all teens – or 88% of teen cell phone users — are text-messagers.2 That is a sharp rise from the 51% of teens who were texters in 2006. More than half of teens (54%) are daily texters. Among all teens, the frequency of use of texting has now overtaken the frequency of every other common form of interaction with their friends (see chart on the right). Fully two-thirds of teen texters say they are more likely to use their cell phones to text their friends than talk to them to them by cell phone.

Text messaging
54 % of all teens 27 36 38

Instant messaging
% of all teens 28 29 24 24

Nov 06

Nov 07

Feb 08

Sept 09

Nov 06

Nov 07

Feb 08

Sept 09

% of all teens

% of all teens

31

39

29

33

% of all teens

Daily text messaging by teens to friends has increased rapidly since early 2008. Some 38% of teens were daily texters in February 2008 and that has risen to 54% of teens who use texting daily in September 2009. Of the 75% of teens who own cell phones, 87% use text messaging at least occasionally. Among those texters: • Half of teens send 50 or more text messages a day, or 1,500 texts a month, and one in three send more than 100 texts a day, or more than 3,000 texts a month. 15% of teens who are texters send more than 200 texts a day, or more than 6,000 texts a month.

34

35

36

38

% of all teens

One in three teens sends more than 100 text messages a day, or 3000 texts a month.

Call on cell phone

Social networking site
23 25 25

21

Nov 06

Nov 07

Feb 08

Sept 09

Nov 06

Nov 07

Feb 08

Sept 09

Talk face-to-face

Email

14
Nov 06

16

15

11
Sept 09

Nov 06

Nov 07

Feb 08

Sept 09

Nov 07

Feb 08

Talk on a landline phone
% of all teens 39 35 32 30



Source: Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project surveys. Percentages are for all teens ages 12-17.

Nov 06

Nov 07

Feb 08

Sept 09

1

Unless otherwise noted, all data in this report refers to cell phone-owning teens.

2 This 72% of teens who text figure is slightly different than previous “teens who text” numbers that we have released. The difference lies in the question wording. For this question, we asked about teens texting friends, but we did not specify the platform (computer, cell phone) on which the texting was taking place. Our other teen texting number (66%) reflects teens who text on their own cell phone, and does not constrain with whom the teen may be texting. Please see K9c and K20a in our questionnaire for exact question wording.

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Boys typically send and receive 30 texts a day; girls typically send and receive 80 messages per day. 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...
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