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The Online Mom provides internet technology advice and information to help parents protect their kids, encourage responsible behavior and safely harness the power of technology in the new digital world. Social networking, photo sharing, video games, IM & texting, internet security, cyberbullying, educational resources, the latest on tech hardware, gadgets and software for kids 3-8, tweens and teens, and more.

Teens prefer texting to talking

A study of cell phone use by the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that teen texting has risen dramatically over the last 18 months, eclipsing cell phone calls, instant messaging, social networking updates – and even face-to-face conversation.

Pew reported that three-quarters of young people between the ages of 12 and 17 now own cell phones, and of those that do, girls typically send or receive 80 text messages per day and boys, 30 per day.

"Texting is now the central hub of communication in the lives of teens today," Pew researcher Amanda Lenhart said, attributing the rise in part to payment plans that allow unlimited texting.

Daily text messaging among American teens has shot up from 38 per cent of teens in February 2008 to 54 per cent of teens in September 2009.

And it's not just frequency. Teens are sending enormous quantities of text messages each day. Half of teens send 50 or more text messages a day - that amounts to 1,500 texts a month - and one in three send more than 100 texts a day, or more than 3,000 a month!

Older teen girls ages 14-17 are leading the way, averaging 100 messages a day. Younger teen boys are the most resistant to texting, averaging "only" 20 messages per day.

The 75 per cent of teenagers that now have cell phones is up from 45 per cent in 2004. However, parents don't need to be too concerned about the number of minutes they use when it comes to setting up their kids' calling plans. While teens are dashing off hundreds of texts, they typically only make about five phone calls per day.

Of those who have cell phones, 83 per cent also use the device to take pictures; 60 per cent play music; 46 per cent play games; 31 per cent send IMs; 23 per cent access social networking sites; 21 per cent send e-mail; and 11 per cent use their phones to buy things.

Text messaging has become so much a part of teenagers' lives that 87 per cent of those who text said that they sleep with, or next to, their phone. The study's authors also say that, unlike phone calls, text messaging can be quietly carried out under the noses of parents or teachers and it can be done from just about anywhere.

How often does your teen text? Is text messaging killing the art of conversation among our kids? Share your thoughts with The Online Mom!

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