Nation of Texters: A Third of People Prefer a Text to Talking


A new poll from the Pew Research Center asked Americans about how they use their phone, and in particular, their phone’s non-voice features. They got predictable but still staggering results about sending and receiving text messages, especially from the younger demographic.  The summary states:

Some 83% of American adults own cell phones and three-quarters of them (73%) send and receive text messages. The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project asked those texters in a survey how they prefer to be contacted on their cell phone and 31% said they preferred texts to talking on the phone, while 53% said they preferred a voice call to a text message. Another 14% said the contact method they prefer depends on the situation.

Unsurprisingly, young adults are the most prolific texters, and though this might be widely known, the sheer number of texts they send is still surprising.  Cell phone owners between the ages of 18 and 24 exchange an average of 109.5 messages on a normal day.  This is more than double the figure for 25 – 34 year-olds, and 23 times the figure for texters that are 65 and over.

robyn ann goldstein

I find this to be so interesting. Talk is cheap. Writing involves a committment i.e., as in the voices of the absent persons. I personally made mine in The Essentials of Sociology (1995) .

Robyn Ann Goldstein. No two words of this text may be used without the authors permission

Paul K

I would like to ask that the blog bar this person from posting comments. It is basically spam and nonsense. The "no two words" nonsense is also ridiculous and not legal - copyright requires larger bodies of text.

robyn ann goldstein

Dear Paul K.
So then I guess Albert Einstein was ridiculous since that was one of the three real inferences that can be made from his own words placed in the inside of his text and based upon my own further than Lawson's analysis of the text of Einstein's effort to recall sociology, rethink Social science himself. In science, if you want to have an idea of your own and be acknowledged as an individual in your own right then you have no choice but for your work to be just that- in your own words. This is about science- not politics....

Goldstein, 2003. 2011. No two words of this text may be used without this author's permission.


"Cell phone owners between the ages of 18 and 24 exchange an average of 109.5 messages on a normal day"

110 messages a day? per person? (I guess 'exchange' refers to both sending and receiving, but still)

Andreas Moser

I prefer receiving texts (but not 110 a day) because it's less intrusive. I can decide when to reply, if at all.
That's why I almost never answer the phone:


It's interesting that it drops so quickly in the 25-34 demographic. I couldn't believe the number when I read it (I'm 26), but I told my high school students and they weren't surprised at all. One of them said, "More like 100 in an hour." It made me feel old.

Joshua Northey

The world is changing very quickly.

I am 30 and anything but a ludite (I was building my own PCs 15 years ago), and I maybe send/receive 15 texts a month. Meanwhile my cousin who is 10 years younger than me sends 10,000/month (not kidding).

Part of that is her current age, but part of that is that she got her first cell phone at age 11 and I got my first cell phone at age 20 (just a year before her though I am 10 years older).


I too am 26, and that number doesn't surprise me. Texting is today's AIM. It's used conversationally, not to convey information. Many of the 100+ texts are likely "sup", "nothin", "u", "nothin", and "cool".

If you counted up my AIM messages per day when in HS or college, it would likely approach or exceed 100. The communication hasn't changed much in the last few years, just the medium.

David Ron

Why I Think Spontaneous Phone Calls Are Rude

Talking on the telephone has two inherent problems. The first is that there is a certain etiquette that requires extra unnecessary information such as a greeting, "How are you doing" and a closing, "Talk to you later, goodbye" which increases the cost of the communication. But much worse, the medium is synchronous. In order to place a call, you have to dial the number, and wait for the other person to connect (or else possibly wait for an extensive voicemail greeting). The recipient of the call is completely interrupted from whatever task he/she was doing, which may be annoying and will cause mental context switch which comes with some cost.

Texting is light-weight asynchronous operation. The interruption is momentary (a brief sound or a buzz) and the recipient can choose to immediately respond or finish up a thought or conversation with somebody else before responding. The recipient can glance down at the phone in the middle of a meeting and understand the context of the message and is given the opportunity to choose if this new interruption is worth switching to or not.

Some younger people (including me, at 31) feel like placing an unplanned phone call to somebody is extremely rude because it implies that whatever the caller wants to talk about is more important than whatever the recipient was already doing. The caller interrupts the recipient saying, "stop everything and listen to me for a minute or 30". Indeed, when somebody calls me without warning while I am focusing on something important (such as an emergency at work), I feel anxiety about the potential wasted time talking about something less immediately important. Many friends prefer I start a conversation via text (email, sms, IM) before elevating that conversation to a voice call to increase the bandwidth of the communication once both parties have agreed that the need exists.


Joshua Northey

I am 30 and of the school that if what I have to say to someone doesn't merit interrupting them and gaining their full attention I probably shouldn't bother them at all.

Maybe a half dozen times a month I will call a friend and talk for 5mins to an hour. Other than that I just talk to them when I see them.

I only uses texts for brief exchanges of information ("Are you going to be at hockey tomorrow?" "Yes." "Can you give me a ride?" "Yes.")


Texts are great unless you want to engage in a meaningful exchange of information. But then again, who does that anymore?

Paul K

So, you can text someone to ask when they are free to talk. I do that all the time (and am 52). I hate being called on a mobile phone since I may be speaking with someone in person, concentrating on something, driving, etc. Text is is great and forces people to get to the point since not a lot of characters allowed and takes some effort to type (vs. speaking)

Mike B

People who prefer to txt simply have nothing worthwhile to say.


If this is an important question, can't the data be obtained more reliably from the phone companies, which have the data? They know (or can find out) how old users are; they certainly know how many text messages are sent per day per user.


Phone calls demand quick thinking, so there is some pressure to be able to respond well. Texts, like old-fashioned letters, give the recipient time to think of a good reply and respond in her or his own time. So I tend to prefer texts also. Less intrusive and easier.


Only 31%?

"110 messages a day? per person?"

I wouldn't believe it either, but I have a teenage daughter and see the stats on my bill. Believe it.