The average 18-to-24-year-old US adult sends and receives an average of 109.5 texts per day, or more than 3,200 per month, according to [pdf] data released by the Pew Research Center in September 2011. This figure dramatically drops about 160% to 41.8 daily texts by the age group with the next-highest average, 25-to-34-year-olds.
The figure is also roughly 23 times the 4.7 texts the average adult 65 and older sends and receives in a given day. One quarter of 18-24 year old text messaging users (23%) report sending or receiving more than 100 texts per day, while a little more than one in 10 (12%) say that they send or receive more than 200 messages on an average day, equaling 6,000 or more messages per month.
Pew data also shows both cell ownership and text messaging are nearly universal among 18-to-24-year-olds, as 95% own a cell phone and 97% of these cell owners use text messaging.
Young Adults Lead All Demographics in Texting
No group compares to young adults when it comes to text messaging, although several other groups do text on a daily basis at higher-than-average levels. For example, non-whites text more often than whites. Non-Hispanic blacks average 70.1 texts a day, which is 43% more than the Hispanic average of 48.9 texts per day and 125% more than the non-Hispanic white average of 31.2 texts per day.
Interestingly, lower levels of household income are also associated with heavier texting, as adults with a household income of less than $30,000 average 58.7 texts per day, which is 44% more than the next-highest average (40.2), held by adults with a household income of $30,000 to $49,999. However, the highest-income individuals earning $75,000 or more per year have higher daily text average (31.9) than those earning $50,000 to $74,999 (25.9).
Texting is also directly related to education level, peaking at 69.4 per day for adults with less than a high school diploma and steadily decreasing as education level rises to 23.8 among those with a college degree or more.
Texting Levels Off
Along with taking photos, Pew data shows text messaging is the most common non-voice application Americans use on their mobile phones. Some 73% of adult cell owners use the text messaging function on their phone at least occasionally (nearly identical to the 72% of cell owners who did so at a similar point in 2010). Text messaging users send or receive an average of 41.5 messages per day, with the median user sending or receiving 10 texts daily.
Each of these figures is a notable increase from late 2009, and similar to what Pew found in the spring of 2010. At that point, the average number of texts sent or received per day was 39.1, with a median of 10.
Cell Owners Still Prefer Voice
When asked how they prefer to be contacted if someone needs to reach them on their cell phone, a majority of cell owners (53%) say that they prefer a voice call, compared with 31% who say that they prefer to be contacted via text message. An additional 14% say that the contact method they prefer depends on the situation.
ExactTarget: Texting Top Smartphone Activity
Texting is the most popular activity among US smartphone users, with 38% texting constantly throughout the day, according to a June 2011 report from ExactTarget. Data from “Mobile Dependence Day” shows texting is followed in frequency of constant use by phone calls (31%) and email (29%).
About the Data: These results come from a nationally representative phone survey of 2,277 adults ages 18 and older conducted from April 26-May 22, 2011, including 755 cell phone interviews.