March 14, 2005

The Rise of Cell Phone Text Messaging

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 36 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.

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.