Texting popularity increases among teens

LOL, OMG: One-third of teenagers send more than 100 text messages per day. ROFLMFAO rly!?

Yup, that is more than 36,000 texts per year.

A newly released study from the Pew Research Center highlighted the meteoric rise in the popularity of text messaging among teens. The percentage of teens who text on a daily basis has increased from 38 percent in February 2008 to 54 percent in September 2009.

Kurt Squire, an assistant professor in educational communications and technology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, attributed part of the popularity of text messages to the accessibility of cell phones. According to Squire, the cell phone is “one of the most rapidly adopted technologies of its scale in history.”

Squire also said the ability to connect with friends and family at all times is a huge factor in teens’ texting habits. Since teens are usually at the mercy of an adult’s schedule, cell phones keep friends in contact with one another, he said.

Whether this is a positive or negative aspect of cell phones remains to be seen, Squire said.

Squire said texting may be changing the way teens absorb information, but it is not something to worry about.

“We fear that teens will forget how to concentrate, and at the same time we’re concerned that they play four to six hours of ‘World of Warcraft'”, Squire said in an e-mail. “One thing we maybe should be worried about is will kids become even less tolerant of situations like school, where they are forced to do what a teacher says for hours on end with little chance to further their own interests.”

According to Pew’s study, 98 percent of parents surveyed said the main reason their child has a phone is so they can always contact their son or daughter.

But cell phones have also become a weapon in parents’ arsenal of punishments. Sixty-four percent of parents surveyed report checking the contents of their child’s phone, and 62 percent said they have taken away their teen’s phone as punishment.

Texting is not just for high schoolers, however. Today’s college students were some of the first teenagers to be introduced to texting, and it has become a large part of their social lives.

Maggie Galster, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, said she sends an average of 75 texts per day to her friends and family.

“I usually text people to meet up for meals and studying, or if something funny happened that reminded me of them,” she said.

Mike Herbst, a sophomore in the College of Communication, said he typically sends between 30 and 40 texts per day. Herbst, like Galster, said the main reasons he sends texts are to make plans or to remind a friend about an inside joke.

Squire said texting is about communicating to arrange face-to-face contacts. He said cell phone standards and protocol will continue to evolve as technology becomes even more embedded in people’s lives.

“Our society is still trying to make sense of (cell phones),” Squire said. “We still don’t quite understand when it’s appropriate to text in the middle of conversations or not.”