Use of text messaging by teens has increased since 2006, both in overall likelihood of use and in frequency of use. In 2006, 51% of all teens, regardless of cell phone ownership, had ever sent a text message, while 58% had done so by 2008. Similarly, daily use of text messaging is also up, from 27% of teens using text messaging daily in 2006 to 38% texting daily in 2008.
Text messages aren’t just sent via phones – texts may be sent on desktops or laptops as well, generally through email clients. And as teens migrate away from standalone email to messaging through social networks, these online networks are often vehicles for the sending of text-based short messages by teens. Among social network users, 54% of teens on those sites send IMs or text messages to friends through the social networking system.
Girls are more likely than boys to send and receive text messages frequently, as are older teens ages 15-17. More than 2 in 5 girls (42%) send text messages to friends daily, while about a third (34%) of boys do the same. The difference between younger and older teens is even starker – 25% of teens ages 12-14 send text messages daily compared 51% of teens ages 15-17. As with phone ownership and other uses of mobile devices, there are no racial or ethnic differences when it comes to text messaging. However, teens from wealthier households are slightly more likely to text message frequently compared with teens from lower income households; 42% of teens from households earning more than $50,000 annually send texts daily, compared with 33% of teens from homes earning less than $50,000 per year.