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American teenagers send an average of 10 text messages per hour they are not in school or sleeping, according to research by The Nielsen Company.

By analyzing more than 40,000 monthly US mobile bills, Nielsen determined American teens sent an average of 3,146 texts a month each during Q3 2009. Their counterparts 9-12 sent an average of 1,146 monthly texts each, or four per hour not spent asleep or in school. In comparison, the average number of monthly texts sent by all mobile users combined was a little more than 500. In Q4 2009, users 9-12 increased text usage by 8% and almost doubled their text message volume.

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Text Costs Typically Remain Low

While parents may fume that all the texts their teens and tweens are sending will land them in the poorhouse, Nielsen analysis indicates the average cost of a single text message is one penny. Only a small percentage of mobile users belong to a “pay as you go” plan typically charging 20 cents per text. Most mobile users subscribe to plans with messaging bundles that substantially reduce the cost of an individual text.

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Youth Text Market Will Grow
Nielsen predicts overall text message usage will grow as the heavy text messaging population ages and entices the older generations to text with them in order to stay in contact with them. The average text message number has increased every year, but the huge room for growth that is still remaining has been underestimated given the penchant for texting among the 17 and under segment.

‘Sexting’ Poses Teen Danger
‘Sexting,’ or the sending of risqu? photos via text message, likely poses a greater threat to teens and tweens than heavy text usage. According to nationally representative research from Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 8% of 17-year-olds with cell phones have sent a sexually provocative image by text, and 30% have received a nude or nearly nude image. In addition, 17% of teens who pay for all of the costs associated with their cell phones send sexually suggestive images via text; just 3% of teens who do not pay for, or only pay for a portion of the cost of the cell phone, send these images. Pew research found that sexually explicit text messages have become “relationship currency” among US teens.

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