The Pew Research Center yesterday released an updated study of teenagers and how they communicate that shows that 63 percent of teenagers now text every day, and that the median number sent per day has risen from 50 in 2009 to 60 today. For teenage girls, the median number is now 100 texts a day, while for boys it is about half that number.
The Pew study is part of the Pew Internet & American Life Project which investigates "the social impact of the Internet, focusing on topics including health, teens, and broadband."
The Pew study states that texting now "far surpasses the frequency with which [teens] pick other forms of daily communication, including phone calling by cell phone (39 percent do that with others every day), face-to-face socializing outside of school (35 percent), social network site messaging (29 percent), instant messaging (22 percent), talking on landlines (19 percent) and emailing (6 percent)."
The study also states that some 14% of the teens they interviewed talk daily with their friends using a landline, down from 30% who said they did in 2009. The fraction of teens say they never use a landline phone to talk to their friends is up to 31 percent, presumably in part because some 77 percent of teenagers now own a cellphone, with more than a third of those being smartphones.
Technology is advancing so quickly that the categories between these modes of communication are blurring into one another and you have to wonder if Pew will even be able to conduct this research in future years without restructuring it. Apple's iMessage service sends text messages to other users that bypass the phone company's SMS servers. At Google as well, the overlap between chat, e-mail, and Google+ messaging, is substantial. And on Facebook, there's no difference at all between e-mail and chat.
In the short term, though, Pew's findings will no doubt add more fuel to the fire about mobile devices and distracted driving.
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.