Home Teens Still Love Texting, But Mobile App Use is Growing

Teens Still Love Texting, But Mobile App Use is Growing

New data from Nielsen out today delves into the behavior of the youngest mobile consumers: the American teenager. The study further solidifies what we’ve known for some time – teens are heavy-duty users of text messaging services. No other demographic group texts as much as teens do, with an average of 3,339 texts sent and received per month. (For girls, it’s even higher – 4,050 texts per month!)

But the study also revealed that teens are now turning to mobile applications, too, with 38% of teens using downloadable apps like those from Facebook, Pandora and YouTube. And usage in this area is growing, says Nielsen.

Texting Still Popular, Usage Increasing

Not surprisingly, Nielsen found teens text a lot. Any parent who doesn’t have their child on an unlimited texting plan is just setting themselves up for failure, it seems. According to Nielsen’s data, teens send out more than six messages per every hour they’re awake, an 8% increase since just last year.

While females still text more than males (4,050 compared to 2,539 texts, females vs. males), the teen boys (ages 13-17) are still outpacing the other male age groups studied. Young adults (ages 18-24) are in second place overall with 1,630 texts per month.

Texting is also now the number one reason why teens say they get a phone, with 43% reporting this as their primary reason for mobile adoption. Safety, the number one reason back in 2008, has now fallen to second place with only 35% citing this as the top reason.

The growth in texting as a communication mechanism has also led to decreased voice usage. Voice activity is down 14% from last year. According to teens, texting is easier (22%) and faster (20%) than making a phone call.

Data and Apps Usage Up Too

With the ever-lowering prices of smartphones and more affordable data options, it seems that smartphones and “smarter” feature phones are making their way into the hands of more teens. And with these data-ready phones comes increased data usage. In this young demographic group, 94% of teens saying they’re using Internet, messaging, multimedia, gaming and apps on their phones.

In fact, this group has seen the largest jump, year-over-year, in data usage, going from 14 MB in Q2 2009 to 62 MB in Q2 2010, a fourfold increase. Males are consuming more data than females with 75 MB used vs. 53 MB for females.

Application usage among teens is up, too, going from 26% last year to 38% this year. The mobile Web is used more than apps, however, with 49% reporting they surf the Net on their phones.

A note on methodology: Nielsen surveyed 3,000 teens for this report and combined their answers with data from monthly phone bills of over 60,000 mobile customers, a large enough sample to point to these behaviors and increases as definite trends.

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