Yes, your teenager is texting more and more. No it’s not your imagination. Maybe you didn’t need a research report from Pew Internet & American Life Project to confirm this, but they did and now you have some hard numbers to back up what you’re seeing.
Pew did a similar study of text message usage in 2009 and the average teen send/received 50 texts per day; the results of the most recent study showed that teens (12-17 years old) send/receive 60 texts per day. A jump of 10 text messages per day doesn’t seem like much until you consider that they only sampled 800 or so teenagers in these studies and that it would take thousands of additional texts per day to bump the average number up by 10 so quickly. In fact, it was older teens aged 14-17 who were most responsible for the jump in average daily texts going from roughly 60 text messages per day in 2009 to more than 100 per day in the most recent study.
Of course we can look at our teens and see that they’re texting at the same rate they’re breathing, it seems. What Pew shows us is that they’re texting as their main form of communication with the important people in their lives. More than phone calls (either landline or mobile), social networks, email and even face to face contact, teenagers rely on text messaging for daily communication with their friends, relatives and other social circles. This was always the promise of mobile technology: that we can be in contact with anybody, anywhere at any time. Why our teenagers seem to prefer texting as their communication tool over all of the other options seems like a deeper study for another time.
Maybe it’s the fact that text messaging allows us (and the teenagers who will be us one day) to be in conversation with people simultaneously. We’ve all been in the presence of a friend, relative, colleague or somebody who otherwise deserves our full attention, yet there we are glancing sideways to read what somebody somewhere has sent to us on a device that’s often physically placed between us and our companions. In that instance, our attention is split between the folks right in front of our faces and processing whatever it is that just popped up on our screens. There was no equivalent to this dynamic 15-20 years ago, yet our teenagers know no other way.
Sound off on @playgrounddad or in the comments section and lets us know how you feel about the AMOUNT of texting your teenager does on a daily basis.