Other demographics increasing their use of texting include boys of all ages (from a median of 30 texts per day in 2009 to 50 in 2011), and black teens (from 60 to 80 per day). Hispanic teens appear to be heavy users, sending and receiving a median of 100 texts per day.
Overall, 63% of all teens say they send and receive text messages every day with other people.
Texting the Leading Communication Mode
In fact, texting is by far the most prevalent form of communication for teens today. When asked how they communicate with others (not just friends) on a daily basis, 63% said they use text, with the next most-popular mode, making and receiving voice calls on a mobile phone, indicated by just 39%. Other daily communication choices include socializing in person outside of school (35%), exchanging messages through social networks (29%), using instant messaging (22%), talking on landlines (19%), and exchanging email (6%).
According to March 2012 data from comScore, texting was the most common activity among US mobile subscribers for the 3-month average ending in January 2012, used by 74.6% of US mobile subscribers, up 3.9% from 71.1% for the three-month average ending in October.
Phone Conversations With Friends Drop
Meanwhile, data from Pew’s “Teens, Smartphones & Texting” indicates that phone conversations are suffering as a communication choice. Just 14% of all teens said they talk to friends on a landline phone on a daily basis, down from 30% in 2009. At the same time, 31% said they never talk to friends on a landline, up from 19% who indicated this in 2009.
The drop in phone conversation frequency is not limited to landlines, either: 26% of all teens reported talking daily with friends on their cell phone, a 31.6% drop from 38% in 2009.
- Teens who text the most also talk the most: those who exchange more than 100 texts per day are 60.5% more likely than those who exchange 0-20 texts a day to talk on their cell phone daily (69% vs. 43%).
- 31% of teens aged 14-17 own a smartphone, with no significant differences in ownership of smartphones compared to regular cell phones by rate, ethnicity, or income.
- 16% of all teens (12-17) reported having used a tablet in the last month to go online, a proportion that rises to 30% among smartphone owners.
- 77% of youth aged 12-17 have a cell phone. The proportion was highest among white teens (81%) and lowest among Hispanics (63%). Cell phone ownership also correlates with household income: those from an annual household income of more than $75,000 had the highest proportion of ownership (91%), while those from families with less than $30,000 in annual household income had the lowest proportion of ownership (62%). The education level of teens’ parents was also a significant factor.
- 6% of all teens use mobile location-based services. The percentage was highest among smartphone owners, at 18%.
About the Data: The 2011 Teens and Digital Citizenship Survey sponsored by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project obtained telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 799 teens ages 12 to 17 years old and their parents living in the continental US. The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. The interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by Princeton Data Source, LLC from April 19 to July 14, 2011.