Text messaging has become the primary way teens communicate with friends, surpassing face-to-face contact, e-mail, instant messaging and voice calling, a survey released Tuesday by the Pew Internet & American Life Project showed. But talking to parents typically involved calling them on a mobile phone, with 68% of teens calling their mom or dad at least once a day.
More than half of the 800 U.S. teenagers surveyed said they text on a daily basis to socialize and to chat with friends. Girls from 14 to 17 years old were the texting leaders, averaging 100 messages a day. The youngest teenage boys were the least likely to text, averaging 20 messages a day.
Overall, half of teens sent 50 or more messages each day, or 1,500 a month, while one in three averaged more than 100 texts a day, or 3,000 a month.
Since the last survey conducted by Pew in February 2008, daily text messaging has soared among teens. In the previous study, 38% of teens sent texts daily, compared to 54% in the latest survey conducted in September 2009.
The mobile phone has become an essential communication tool for most teens. Pew found that 75% of 12- to 17-year-olds own a cellular phone, up from 45% in 2004.
While most texting by teenagers and adults is done safely, texting while driving has become a serious problem. In an attempt to avoid accidents caused by messaging motorists, 14 states and the District of Columbia have laws banning texting while operating a vehicle. Congress is considering legislation that would require all states to ban texting while driving, or federal highway funds.