Business Brains

Text messaging growth slows: study

Posting in Education

Pew Research finds the average US adult gets or sends 40 texts a day -- and young people receive and send more than 100 texts a day. The survey also raises some puzzling questions.

Has text messaging usage finally leveled off after a decade of relentless growth?

That's the finding of a new survey of 2,300 US adults conducted by The Pew Research Center. There were few surprises in the study -- for example, younger people are the most voracious texters. However, there were some data points that merited further exploration -- such as the wide disparity in texting between income and educational levels.

Seventy-three percent of cell phone owners text one another, and send or receive an average of 41.5 messages on a typical day. This comes to approximately three messages every waking hour. However, this figure is largely unchanged from that reported in 2010. It's still higher than 2009, when an average of 30 texts a day were reported. Has text messaging reached its saturation point?

Not surprisingly, young people are the most voracious test messages. Cell owners between the ages of 18 and 24 exchange an average of 109.5 messages on a normal day — or about seven each waking hour. (assuming they're getting more than 3,200 texts per month.

Interestingly, the less education and lower the income level of respondents, the more they were likely to text. For example, respondents with less than a high school education reported an average of 70 texts a day, versus 24 a day for those with four years or more of college. The survey authors did not offer an explanation for this disparity.

The Pew Research Center also asked those texters in a survey how they prefer to be contacted on their cell phone and 31% said they preferred texts to talking on the phone, while 53% said they preferred a voice call to a text message. Another 14% said the contact method they prefer depends on the situation.

Joe McKendrick

Contributing Editor

Joe McKendrick is an independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. He is a co-author of the SOA Manifesto and has written for Forbes, ZDNet and Database Trends & Applications. He holds a degree from Temple University. He is based in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure