March 14, 2005

34 million American adults send text messages on their cell phones

WASHINGTON — About 134 million American adults have cell phones and 27% of them say they have used the text message feature on those phones within the past month. That represents 34 million people who use a cell feature also known as short message service or SMS. Of those who use the texting feature on their phones, 28% say they have received unsolicited commercial text messages on their phone. The findings come from a nationwide phone survey of 1,460 cell phone users by the Pew Internet & American Life Project between January 13 and February 9. The most likely cell phone texters are in Generation Y (ages 18-27). Fully 63% of those with cell phones in that cohort are texters, compared to 31% of cell phone owners in Generation X (ages 28-39), 18% of cell phone owners among younger Baby Boomers (age 40-49), 13% of cell phone owners among older Baby Boomers (ages 50-58), and 7% of cell phone owners among those over age 60. “The proliferation of cell phones and the spread of text messaging are changing patterns of commuication for many Americans — espeically younger ones,” said Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project. “These technologies are introducing new notions about what it means to be ‘present’ with someone else and about what it means to be in conversation with them. For some cell phone users, the stream of conversation hardly ever ends.” However, younger American adults are less likely to be cell phone owners than their elders. Fully 76% of those in GenX own cell phones and 75% of younger Baby Boomers own them. Some 68% of GenY and 68% of older Baby Boomers own cell phones, as do 62% of those over age 60. Cell phone texters also tend be technologically oriented. Some 58% of texters have broadband at home and 73% have at least six years experience with the internet. But it is also true that 9% of cell phone texters say they are not internet users.