U.S. high-school girls typically send and receive 100 text messages a day, according to a study, which found that cheaper mobile-phone plans have boosted the technology’s popularity among young people.
The percentage of Americans age 12 to 17 who use text messaging to contact friends daily reached 54 percent last year, double the figure in 2006, according to a study released today by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. The growth rate outpaced the increase in daily use of e-mail and wireless calls.
The surging use of text messages bodes well for mobile- phone makers because teenagers tend to become reliant on their wireless devices without realizing it, said Scott Campbell, one of the study’s co-authors. Texting teens are 42 percent more likely to leave their phones on or near their beds when they go to sleep than those that don’t send texts, the study found.
“They say that if a friend texts them in the night they want to wake up and answer it,” said Campbell, an assistant professor of communication studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “Nothing really seems to bother them about their dependence on the technology.”
Three-quarters of U.S. teenagers have mobile phones, up from 45 percent in 2004, the researchers found. Of those with the devices, 83 percent use them to take pictures, 60 percent listen to music and 46 percent play games.
Teenagers who go online with their phones represented 27 percent of all the device owners. While young people are interested in models such as Apple Inc.’s iPhone that are designed for applications and heavy Internet use, many can’t afford the extra charges or can’t get their parents to pay for it, said Amanda Lenhart, a co-author of the study.
“There’s a certainly excitement about app-based devices, but teens don’t have quite the same access,” said Lenhart, senior research specialist at the Internet & American Life Project, a branch of the Pew Research Center, a nonprofit group in Washington.
Girls ages 14 to 17 were the most active text messengers, according to the study, which surveyed 800 teenagers and their parents between June 26 and Sept. 24. Their 100-message-a-day rate was double the level of all teenagers.
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