Teens Exchange 3,339 Texts A Month

The increase in texting reported by Nielsen is part of broader growth in mobile data usage among U.S. high schoolers.

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U.S. teenagers on average send or receive a half-dozen texts every wakening hour, which amounts to 3,339 of the short messages each month, a research firm says.

In analyzing teen mobile-phone usage in the second quarter, The Nielsen Co. found that no demographic texts more than teens from the age of 13 to 17. In this age group, girls exchanged the most texts, at 4,050 a month, while boys averaged 2,539 texts a month.

Coming in a distant second were young adults from 18 to 24. This group exchanged 1,630 texts per month, or three texts an hour, Nielsen said.

For 43% of teens, texting is the primary reason for getting a mobile phone, and a QWERTY keyboard is the first thing they look for in choosing a device. With so much attention on texting, voice calling among teens has fallen 14% from last year to an average of 646 minutes per month.

The increase in texting is part of a broader growth in data usage among teens. Fully 94% turn to their mobile phones for messaging, Internet, multimedia, gaming, and other activities, such as downloads. While young adults' data activity is greater than teens', the latter group's usage has grown fourfold since the second quarter of last year to 62 MB per month. Boys lead among teens in consuming 75 MB a month, compared to girls' 53 MB.

Finally, the Nielsen study showed that teens are downloading a wider range of applications that ever before for their mobile phones. Software downloads increased 12 percentage points from a year ago, from 26% to 38%. Popular apps among teens include Facebook, YouTube, and Pandora, which streams music to mobile phones.

While getting on the web more often with their mobile devices, teens are often lax in the personal information they share and with whom. A separate study by security firm McAfee found that a third of teens chat online with people they don't know in the offline world and nearly half share their real first name with strangers. Also, nearly seven in 10 have included their physical location in social networking status updates.