Similar to voice calling, adults most often use text messaging to “just say hello and chat” with others. More than 4 in 5 (84%) text messaging adults send and receive texts just to say hello, and nearly half (49%) send these types of messages every day or more often. Text messaging adults are nearly as likely to use texts to report their location or check on someone else’s location as they are to say hello, with 79% of texters doing so, and nearly 2 in 5 (39%) saying they text to check in daily or more often.
Using texts to coordinate where you are meeting someone is another popular use of text messaging by adults, with three quarters (76%) of texters using texts for this purpose. But coordinating a physical meeting with someone is not done as frequently as checking in or saying hello – only a little more than a quarter (27%) of texters coordinate a meeting at least once a day or more often, and another quarter (24%) say they never do so via text message.
Sending and receiving text messages has one particular advantage over voice calling – with the proper phone settings engaged, text messages can transfer information silently between two or more people. Two thirds of texters (65%) say they take advantage of the ability to silently create and send text messages. A little less than a quarter (23%) of texters say they do this daily or more often, while another third (34%) say they never send messages under these circumstances.
As with voice calling, a comparatively smaller percentage of texters send and receive text messages for work on their cell phone, with just under half (49%) saying they have ever sent a work-related text message. Just about one in five texters say they send work-related texts every day or more frequently, while the bulk of texters (44%) say they never send work-related messages.
Texting is less likely to be used for long conversations on personal matters than voice calling. While 80% of text message users make long voice calls to discuss important personal matters, just about half (51%) of texters have long, personal text message exchanges. But half of texters (49%) never have long personal exchanges by text, and just 15% of texters have these kinds of exchanges daily or more often.
African Americans who send and receive text messages are more likely than their white counterparts to text several times a day for every reason queried in the survey. African Americans are more likely than whites to say they text several times a day just to say hello and chat, to check in on someone or report their own whereabouts, to coordinate meeting someone, to do things related to work, to exchange information quietly and to have long exchanges on important personal matters. In a similar vein young adults who text are more likely than older adults to text frequently for all the reasons probed, with the very youngest adults (18-24) the most likely to report these behaviors, except for texting about work and long exchanges. Lower income and lower education texters are more likely than those with higher incomes or education levels to text for social reasons – to say hello, to check in and to have long personal exchanges on important issues.
Where a person lives also relates to the frequency with which they use text messaging for different purposes. Texters who live in urban areas are more likely than suburbanites to say they report on where they are or check in with someone else by text, coordinate physically meeting someone, exchange messages quietly and have long exchanges of texts on important personal issues. Rural dwellers are more likely than suburbanites to use text messaging to say hello and chat.