March 19, 2012 at 12:38 PM ET
Perhaps in the not-too-distant future, teens will be flummoxed when it comes to how to make a phone call. That's because there's more texting going on than ever, while voice calling continues to decline, says a new report from the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project.
Three-quarters of teens use text messaging, Pew says (it's a little surprising the figure isn't higher), and the "volume of texting among teens has risen from 50 texts a day in 2009 to 60 texts for the median teen text user" in 2011, said Pew in "Teens, Smartphones and Texting," which looks at changes in teens' communication habits over the last five years, with a focus on mobile devices.
Much of this increase occurred among older teens ages 14-17, who went from a median of 60 texts a day to a median of 100 two years later. Boys of all ages also increased their texting volume from a median of 30 texts daily in 2009 to 50 texts in 2011. Black teens showed an increase of a median of 60 texts per day to 80.
Older girls, Pew said, "remain the most enthusiastic texters, with a median of 100 texts a day in 2011, compared with 50 for boys the same age."
While 63 percent of teens say they exchange text messages every day, only 39 percent actually use their phones for voice calling. Not surprisingly, landline phone use is down as well among teens, just as it is among adults:
- 14 percent of all teens say they talk daily with friends on a landline, down from 30 percent who said so in 2009. Nearly a third (31 percent) of teens say they never talk on a landline with friends (or report that they cannot do so).
- 26 percent of all teens (including those with and without cellphones) say they talk daily with friends on their cellphone, down from 38 percent of teens in 2009.
A growing number of teens have smartphones: 31 percent of those ages 14 to 17, and 23 percent of those ages 12 to 17, Pew said. Among the youngest teens -- ages 12 and 13 -- 8 percent have smartphones, those using, for example, the Android, Apple, Windows or BlackBerry operating systems.
"Mobile devices increasingly dominate teens’ communicative lives," said Amanda Lenhart, Pew senior research specialist, in a press release. "Teens continue to privilege texting while their use of email, instant messaging and even voice calling has moved to the background."
Location-based services, whether through Foursquare or Facebook, that share a mobile user's location with friends, still are little-used. Only 6 percent of teens ages 12 to 17 use location-based services on their cellphones use the services to share their location, Pew said.
That, at least, should provide some comfort to parents -- for now.