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72% of Adults are Texting

September 6, 2010

Texting by adults has increased over the past nine months from 65% of adults sending and receiving texts in September 2009 to 72% texting in May 2010. 

With numbers like these, is texting part of your marketing and communications outreach plans? Why? Why not?

Still, adults do not send nearly the same number of texts per day as teens ages 12-17, who send and receive, on average, five times more texts per day than adult texters.

  • Adults who text typically send and receive a median of 10 texts a day; teens who text send and receive a median of 50 texts per day.
  • 5% of all adult texters send more than 200 text messages a day or more than 6,000 texts a month. Fully 15% of teens ages 12-17, and 18% of adults ages 18 to 24 text message more than 200 messages a day, while just 3% of adults ages 25 to 29 do the same.
  • Heavy adult texters — those who send and receive more than 50 texts a day — also tend to be heavy users of voice calling. Light texters, who exchange one to 10 texts a day, do not make up for less texting by calling more. Instead, they are light users of both calling and texting.

The original purpose of the cell phone is still the most universal — nearly every cell phone user makes calls on their phone at least occasionally.

  • The average adult cell phone owner makes and receives around five voice calls a day.
  • Women tend to make slightly fewer calls with their cell phones than men — while 53% of women make and receive five calls or fewer per day, 43% of men say the same. Men are a bit more likely to make slightly more phone calls in a day; 26% of men send and receive six to 10 calls a day, while 20% of women exchange that many calls. Men and women are equally likely to be represented at the extreme high end of callers, with 8% of men and 6% of women making and taking more than 30 calls a day.

Americans especially appreciate that their cell phones make them feel safer (91% of cell owners say this) and help them connect to friends and family to arrange plans (88% agree). Still, some users express irritation with their phone for the disruptions it creates, though the heaviest users of the phone are no more likely to express irritation with their phone than lower level users. Two-in-five (42%) cell phone owners say they feel irritated when a call or text message interrupts them. Cell phones are such a vital part of American’s lives that many users will not be parted from their device, even as they sleep:

  • 65% of adults with cell phones say they have ever slept with their cell phone on or right next to their bed.
  • Adults who have slept with or near their phones are also more likely to feel positively about their phone. They are more likely to appreciate the way the phone helps them to make plans (94% vs. 78% of those who don’t sleep with their phone) and to see the phone as a source of entertainment (52% vs. 14%). Phone sleepers are just as likely to express irritation with the phone as those who don’t sleep near their handset.

Spam isn’t just for email anymore; it comes in the form of unwanted text messages of all kinds — from coupons to phishing schemes — sent directly to user’s cell phones.

  • 57% of adults with cell phones have received unwanted or spam text messages on their phone.

African American and Hispanic cell phone users are more intense and frequent users of all of the phone’s capabilities than whites. Minorities send more text messages and make more calls on average than their white counterparts.

  • African American and English-speaking Hispanic adults are slightly more likely than whites to own a cell phone, with 87% of African Americans and English-speaking Hispanics owning a phone, compared with 80% of whites.
  • African American and English-speaking Hispanic cell phone owners are more likely than whites to initiate and receive large numbers of calls each day. One-in-eight (12%) Africa American phone owners and 14% of Hispanic cell phone users make and receive more than 30 calls on a typical day, while just 4% of white cell phone users make and receive the same number of calls.
  • African American and Hispanic texters typically text more on average than white texters, with a median of 10 texts a day for African Americans and Hispanics and 5 texts a day for whites. White adults are a bit more likely than English-speaking Hispanic adults to say they do not send or receive any texts on a typical day (10% vs. 4%).

Parents with children under age 18 in the home are also keen users of the cell phone. Parents are more likely to own a cell phone than non-parents, and more likely to make five or more calls per day than non-parents (63% vs. 44%), though they do not text more overall. They are more likely to have slept with their phone on or near their bed, and to use the phone for talking for all types of purposes. Texting is less definitive — mostly parents use it for the same reasons and similar frequencies as non-parents. Parents are also more likely than those without minor children at home to appreciate the way the phone allows them to check in, plan on the fly and stave off boredom.

  • Parents (90%) are more likely to have a cell phone than adults without children under 18 at home (78%).
  • 72% of parents have slept with their phone, compared with 62% of non-parents.
  • Parents are more likely to use their cell phone’s voice capabilities several times a day for work calls (32% of parents vs. 19% of non-parents), to check in with someone (28% vs. 17%), to say hello and chat (31% vs. 24%) and to have long personal conversations (13% vs. 7%) than are non-parents. Parents are also more likely than non-parents to coordinate a physical meeting (18% vs. 13%) daily.

Source: by Amanda Lenhart, Senior Research Specialist, Pew Internet & American Life Project
September 2, 2010 

Read the full report at pewinternet.org.

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