Average US Teen Sends or Receives 3,339 Texts a month

If you think your teen is spending more time texting, you’re right. The average US teen (13-17 years old) now sends or receives 3,339 texts a month according to new research by The Nielsen Company. That represents an 8% increase over last year.

While texting increased in all age groups year over year, teens continue to text more than all other age groups combined.

It will come as no surprise that gender plays a role in the number of text messages sent. Teen girls top the texting chart with an average of 4,050 texts per month, vs. their male counter parts who average 2,539 texts.

Texting now biggest reason teens get a phone

Texting has surpassed safety (which held top spot in 2008) as the primary reason teens get a phone, while keeping touch with friends has dropped into third place.

With the increase in teen texting, voice usage has dropped by 14%. While in previous years texting was considered fun, now 78% of teens find it more functional and convenient; including 22% who find it easier, and 20% who find it faster than talking.

That isn’t to say teens have quit talking, girls average about 753 minutes of gab time a month, while guys use around 525 minutes.

Data and application use increasingly important

A whopping 94% of teens self-identify as advanced data users of messaging, internet, multimedia, gaming, downloading and other activities. Though teen usage is still less than that of young adults, their data usage has increased dramatically; male teens usage jumped from 17MB to 75MB, and their female counterparts jumped from 11MB to 53MB in the last year.

Key drivers of the data consumption increase are advanced smartphones with large screens designed for better data consumption, and the broader range of applications teens are now downloading, including Facebook, Pandora and YouTube. Downloading video, for example, is a particularly heavy data hog.

Increased data consumption signals greater need to help manage and monitor youth’s mobile experience

If you haven’t already adopted mobile safeguards for your family’s phones, it may be time for you to do so.

While mobile malware is still in its infancy, security vendors have seen a huge uptick in mobile attacks since late last year.

While many people have been predicting mobile malware for a while, “this might actually, finally, be the year,” said Tim Armstrong, a malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab, during a meeting of the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group earlier this month. Noting that his company identified more than 1,550 mobile malware signatures in September, Armstrong said, “it’s only a matter of time before we see some really huge malware infections.”

Along with increased security, consider what mobile family safety protections you may need (often referred to as parental controls). Several family safety companies are ramping up their mobile services to meet youth’s needs for protection against malicious users, and to filter content that’s inappropriate for minors.

Highlighting the expansion of mobile content categories like user generated content, mobile TV, adult content and gambling, I refer to new data from Juniper Research in my blog Mobile Revenues in North America Projected to Jump to $10 Billion by 2015.

What this may mean to your phone bill

In the face of dramatically increasing data use, carriers are feeling the pinch.

Several carriers have switched, or are considering dumping their all-you-can-eat data plans in favor of requiring consumers to pay by data volume in a tiered pricing structure.

AT&T, which has seen data usage skyrocket with the roll-out of the iPhone, stopped offering new customers unlimited plans back in June. Verizon Wireless, who reports say will begin offering an iPhone early next year, announced in September that they would switch to tiered data plans in 4-6 months.

Sprint appears to be headed in the same direction, as Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said in comments to the press last month, “We can offer unlimited as long as the usage is reasonable. If you run an all-you-can-eat buffet, but you have the New England Patriots come in and the whole team spends a whole day there, I can’t afford to do that anymore.”

While the change from unlimited pricing plans to tiered pricing will save most consumers money, at least from the outset, consumers who are heavy data users may need to either scale back their activities, or get ready to pay more.

This shifting payment structure will unquestionably impact the burgeoning consumer mobile application businesses. Mobile developers experienced a virtual gold rush in the all-you-can-eat environment where consumers could wantonly download their wares without concern for their phone bill. The iPhone store alone offers over 200,000 applications for a phone first launched 4 years ago. Expect the pace of development to slow, or even shrink, as consumers on tiered pricing plans think about the potential impact to their phone bill.

If you’re a parent of a data hungry teen, hold onto that checkbook.

Linda

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