Text messaging has become an increasingly important part of teens’ overall communication strategy. A middle school boy in the focus groups enthused, "The best thing about [the cell phone] is social, texting." Overall, 72% of all teens ages 12-17 send and receive text messages, and 88% of teens with cell phones text. Since 2006, text messaging has increased significantly from 51% of teens who were text users. More markedly, the frequency of teenagers’ texting has also increased rapidly over the year and half leading up to this study. Between February 2008 and September 2009, daily use of text messaging by teens shot up from 38% in 2008 to 54% of all teens saying they text every day in 2009.
Text messaging frequency increases as teens age – 35% of 12 year-olds say they text daily, while 54% of 14 year-olds and 70% of 17 year-olds text everyday. Younger teens are much more likely to say that they never send or receive text messages – 46% of 12 year-olds do not text; only 17% of 17 year-olds do not text. Girls are more likely to text than boys with 77% of all girls texting while 68% of boys do. Older girls ages 14-17 are the most avid texters – 69% say they text their friends every day, while 53% of boys the same age report daily texting.
Lower income teens are more likely to say that they never send text messages, and higher income teens are slightly more likely to say they send and receive texts every day. Nearly 2 in 5 teens whose families earn less than $30,000 annually say they never use text messaging, compared with just 20% of teens from families earning more than $75,000 per year. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of all teens from households earning more than $75,000 annually text every day, while 43% of teens from families that earn less than $30,000 text daily.
Given how vital a mode of communication texting is for teens, it is unsurprising that parents have stepped into the realm of texting a bit more deeply than other adults as a way of keeping the lines of communication open with their child. More than 7 in 10 (71%) of cell-phone owning parents of teens 12-17 say they send and receive text messages on their cell phones. In comparison, 65% of all adults 18 and older send or receive text messages.