Teen Communication: More Texting and Sexting Than Talking

Teen Texting uKnowKidsWhich way does your teenager prefer to communicate? Sexting and texting, or face to face?

Most parents would guess “technology.” But even in a world where teenagers seem glued to glowing screensface-to-face still rules. Ericsson, the cell phone manufacturer, just did a study where they asked young people, “Which method of communication would you miss the most?” The answer should be encouraging to many of us who are worried about our teenagers’ growing dependence on technology. “Meeting in person” was the number one answer.

As someone who has worked with teenager for 20 years and has three teenagers of my own, I can assure you that this is exactly what I observe. Yes, teenagers love texting and they love their Facebook, but nothing beats just “hangin’ out” in person.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m in no way minimizing how much time teenagers are soaking up technology today. Kaiser's most recent report  reveals that 8-18 year olds average over 7 hours a day of entertainment media, and that doesn’t even include the hour and 35 minutes a day they spend texting.

With the growth in popularity of mobile devices, we’re seeing teenagers accessing even more technology on the go. Nielsen, in their December report on Mobile Obsession, analyzed data from 65,000+ mobile subscribers. This report contends that messaging remains “the centerpiece of mobile teen behavior.” The average number of messages exchanged monthly went up to 3,417 text messages per teen in the third quarter last year. That’s an average of 7 texts per waking hour. (Teenage females averaged 3,952 text messages per month - sexting messages included).

According to the same report, teenage “voice usage” has declined recently, moving from an average of 685 minutes of talk time per month, to 572 minutes, or roughly 19 minutes a day. Compare this with young people’s time on the Internet. Nielson’s most recent consumer usage report reveals that the average 12-17 year old spends just 1 hour and 25 minutes per week on the internet on their computer (approx. 12 minutes a day) and 18-24 year olds spend 4 hours and 2 minutes per week on the internet on their computer (approx. 35 minutes a day). There you have it from Nielson:

    • Teenagers average 7 texts per waking hour

    • Teenagers average 19 minutes a day talking on the phone

    • 12-17 year olds average 12 minutes a day on the internet on their computer

    • 18-34 year olds average 35 minutes a day on the internet on their computer

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