Though 40% of parents who exchange text messages with their teen- and young-adult children say they have been caught off guard by high texting bills, the majority still say text messaging is the most cost-effective way to keep tabs on their offspring, according to a survey from AT&T, conducted by Synovate.
The survey, which aimed to better understand texting behavior between parents (age 30+) and children (age 13-20), found that nearly three-fourths of texting parents (73%) think teens are more responsive to text messages than to other forms of communication, and 56% say it makes their children easier to reach.
In terms of message content, 79% of parents said they text with their children most often to tell them to come or phone home,? the most common type of parent-child text message. More than three-quarters (76%) text to work out logistical arrangements and 74% send kids a loving message via text.
Children say they text their parents most often to tell them when they’re going to be home (88%), that they’re safe (78%) and to ask to be picked up (75%).
Not surprisingly, children text most often with their friends, while parents text most often with their children, AT&T said.
The Parent Perspective
- 87% of parents say their child is on an unlimited text messaging plan.
- 50% of parents think text messaging makes them a “cool” parent.
- 55% say they have more frequent communication with their child by texting.
- 61% percent say text messaging is the most cost-effective way to exchange messages with their child, compared with phone calls, e-mails and instant messages.
- 53% of parents say their child taught them how to text (vs.42% of kids who said a friend taught them how to text).
- 33% of parents began texting for the first time so they could reach their child.
The Teen/Young Adult Perspective
- 84% of kids say text messaging is easier than calling friends.
- 82% say texting makes it easier to tell their parents where they are.
- Kids like the privacy of text messaging (65%), the cool/hip factor (49%) and say it’s a better use of time than calling (48%).
- 53% of children sent a text for the first time because it was an easier way to stay in touch with friends.
“Text messaging has proved to be a powerful tool to help parents and kids close the communications gap,” said Alecia Bridgwater, director of messaging for AT&T’s wireless unit. “Not only does text messaging allow parents to enter their child’s world, but it provides an unintrusive way for families to stay in touch throughout the day as needed, whether it’s coordinating schedules, sending reminders about doctor’s appointments or just texting a ‘thinking of you’ message.”
About the survey: The survey (pdf) was conducted online by Synovate during July 22-Aug. 4, 2008, with 1,048 online interviews conducted among parents and 1,022 online interviews conducted among teens/young adults. Respondents comprised parents (age 30+), teenagers (13-17) and young adults (18-20); all were pre-qualified as wireless phone users and active texters.