Teens opt for messaging over calling, triple data usage: Nielsen

The number of messages exchanged monthly via SMS and MMS averaged 3,417 per teen during the third quarter, according to new research.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Gone are the days where teenagers are thought to spend all of their free time gabbing away on the telephone. There's no time to talk these days when there's text messaging to be done.

New research from Nielsenhas found that not only are American teens the leading group of mobile message senders in the United States, but also that this demographic has tripled its data usage in the last year.

Specifically, teens between the ages of 13 and 17 used an average of 320 MB of data per month on their phones -- a 256 percent increase from 2010. Nielsen argued that this use case is growing at a rate faster than seen with any other age group.

Even more astounding, the number of messages exchanged monthly via SMS and MMS reached approximately 3,417 per teen during the third quarter. As a whole, that seems ridiculous. But that actually doesn't seem so bad when you consider that averages out to roughly seven messages per waking hour. Most of the effort and dialogue in the average text message probably wouldn't even add up to a five-minute phone call.

Nevertheless, if this isn't evidence that mobile providers should pay even more attention to this customer base (and really, their parents who are most likely paying for these services), then this is it.

Interestingly, preference for data usage and text messaging differs significantly by gender. For example, teen males accounted more for data usage at a rate of 382 MB per user per month while females averaged 266 MB per user.

However, female teenagers sent and received an average of 3,952 messages per month each versus 2,815 for teenage boys.

For reference, this survey is based on the findings from monthly cell phone bills of more than 65,000 mobile subscribers who volunteered to participate in the study.


Editorial standards