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Texting for teens much preferred to talking

Texting for teens much preferred to talking

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Maybe the mobile phone should lose the second half of its name at least as far as teenagers are concerned. Mobile word processors? Texttalkers? Nah. Let's keep phones for the moment, but teenagers are doing much more texting than talking these days. by John Dodge

Maybe the mobile phone should lose the second half of its name at least as far as teenagers are concerned. Mobile word processors? Texttalkers?  Nah. Let's keep phones for the moment, but teenagers are doing much more texting than talking these days.

Indeed, Neilsen reports that the average number of texts sent by teenagers 13-17 exploded from 435 in early 2007 to 2,899 in quarter one for 2009 (see chart). That prompted me to take a look at my July phone bill to see what my 21 and 20 year-old texteratis are doing to determine if these numbers are as outlandish as they sound.

My son at 941 texts was under performing the average teen, but the real surprise was my daughter who seems to be texting all the time. She only had 260! My kids are growing up!!! This is wonderful news.

My daughter's explanation was "Dad, I don't text in the summer" as if I was  supposed to know that already. Her assertion would seem correct given her texts numbered 1,059 in March.

My interest in the topic was piqued when I read a Wall Street Journal post bearing the headline "For Teens, Has Texting Replaced Talking?"

With my just-barely-not teens anymore children, that would not appear to be the case. Together, they managed to wrack up a respectable 665 minutes of  gab time.

But if one text equals one call, texting passed talking eons ago, namely the fourth quarter of 2007, says Neilsen. That's when the monthly average for texts hit 218 compared to 213 calls for all U.S. wireless subscribers.  By mid-2008, the average number of texts was 357 while calls declined slightly to 204.

Mobile phone activity of any sort may soon hit a peak with more states restricting or banning the use of the devices by drivers (texting is even more distracting to drivers than talking). Maine's "distracted driver" law goes into effect this Saturday and will allow police to ticket driver's using mobile phones if it appears they are not in complete control of their vehicle.

“Eating, drinking, arguing, talking on the phone, texting — anything that is not necessary to the operation of the vehicle” can be deemed distracting," a state police officer was quoted as saying in a Bangor Daily News article.

My wife seems to get it. She refused to take my call as she drove home last night on the Maine Turnpike. Smart move.

A poll taken by the Bangor Daily News shows that Mainers like this law: 89 per cent of them agreed that drivers using cell phones are distracted.

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John Dodge

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor John Dodge has written for the Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, PC Week (now eWeek), EDN, Design News, Electronic Business, Bio-IT World, Health-IT World, Lowell Sun, Haverhill Gazette and Newburyport Daily News. He is based in Massachusetts. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure