Teens Text 5x More than Adults

September 3, 2010

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Media & Entertainment | Men | Mobile Phone | Retail & E-Commerce | Technology | Telecom | Women | Youth & Gen X

Teens ages 12-17 send and receive a median of five times more texts per day than adult texters, according to new data from the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Most Adults Send 1-10 Texts Per Day
Slightly more than half (51%) of adults who text send one to 10 texts per day, compared to 22% of teens. The percentages of texting adults and teens who send 11-20 and 21-50 average daily texts are fairly similar. Where teens begin to outpace adults is in the percentage who send 51-100 average texts daily (18% to 7%), and more notably in the percentage who send 101-plus average texts daily (29% to 8%).

Ultimately, adults who text typically send and receive a median of 10 texts a day; teens who text send and receive a median of 50 texts per day.


Men Make More Cell Calls than Women
Women tend to make slightly fewer calls with their cell phones than men, despite stereotypes of women enjoying talking on the phone more. While 53% of women make and receive five calls or fewer per day, 43% of men say the same.

Men are a bit more likely to make slightly more phone calls in a day; 26% of men send and receive six to 10 calls a day, while 20% of women exchange that many calls. Men and women are equally likely to be represented at the extreme high end of callers, however, with 8% of men and 6% of women making and taking more than 30 calls a day.

The average adult cell phone owner (across genders) makes and receives around five voice calls a day.

Cell Phones Provide Security, Annoyance
Americans especially appreciate that their cell phones make them feel safer (91% of cell owners say this) and help them connect to friends and family to arrange plans (88% agree). Still, some users express irritation with their phone for the disruptions it creates, though the heaviest users of the phone are no more likely to express irritation with their phone than lower level users. Two-in-five (42%) cell phone owners say they feel irritated when a call or text message interrupts them.


In a further sign of cell phone-related annoyance, 57% of adults with cell phones have received unwanted or spam text messages on their phone.

Minorities Use Cell Phones More than Whites
African-American and Hispanic cell phone users are more intense and frequent users of all cell phone capabilities than whites. Minorities send more text messages and make more calls on average than their white counterparts. For example:

  • African-American and English-speaking Hispanic adults are slightly more likely than whites to own a cell phone, with 87% of African-Americans and English-speaking Hispanics owning a phone, compared with 80% of whites.
  • African-American and English-speaking Hispanic cell phone owners are more likely than whites to initiate and receive large numbers of calls each day. One-in-eight (12%) African- American phone owners and 14% of Hispanic cell phone users make and receive more than 30 calls on a typical day, while just 4% of white cell phone users make and receive the same number of calls.
  • African-American and Hispanic texters typically text more on average than white texters, with a median of 10 texts a day for African Americans and Hispanics and 5 texts a day for whites. White adults are a bit more likely than English-speaking Hispanic adults to say they do not send or receive any texts on a typical day (10% vs. 4%).

Other Findings

  • 5% of all adult texters send more than 200 text messages a day or more than 6,000 texts a month. Fully 15% of teens ages 12-17, and 18% of adults ages 18 to 24 text message more than 200 messages a day, while just 3% of adults ages 25 to 29 do the same.
  • Heavy adult texters, those who send and receive more than 50 texts a day, also tend to be heavy users of voice calling. Light texters, who exchange one to 10 texts a day, do not make up for less texting by calling more. Instead, they are light users of both calling and texting.
  • Parents (90%) are more likely to have a cell phone than adults without children under 18 at home (78%).

Minors Text 90x as Much as Seniors
The number of messages juveniles younger than 18 text in an average month is about 90 times the total of seniors 65 and up, according to new data from The Nielsen Company. In an average month, an under-18 American will send 2,779 text messages. This dwarfs even the average total of those 18-24 (1,299). It is also 86.7 times the monthly total of 32 text messages the average American 65 and older sends in the same period. The number of text messages sent in an average month steadily declines with each successive age bracket.

About the Data: The re?sults in this report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International between April 29 and May 30, 2010, among a sample of 2,252 adults, age 18 and older.

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