A recent Pew Research Center study reviews mobile trends 2015 among teenagers 13 to 17. With the growth of social media, popularity of messaging apps, and creation of FaceTime, teens have more ways than ever to keep up with friends. Yet texting— a 1992 invention— remains the top communication method for today’s teenagers. Here’s a closer look at the report’s findings, along with possible explanations from Top Mobile Trends.
When teens meet a new friend, the first communication information swapped is a phone number. Whereas 54% of teens will exchange a phone number for texting purposes, only 9% share a phone number with an intention to talk on the phone. For 26% of teens, the next information they share (after a phone number for texting) will be social media usernames. So while social media still plays a role in teenage digital communication, texting keeps the lead.
About 88% of teens report texting friends “at least occasionally,” while 55% of teens text their friends every day. Among teenagers with smartphones, 58% prefer texting to communicate with their closest friends. On the other hand, only 30% of teens with “dumb” phones feel the same way. Surprising? Well, there can be a number of explanations. First, most people find it easier to text on a touchscreen smartphone than a phone with T-9/button keyboards. Furthermore, smartphone users may generally be on their phones more. For example, one device let’s people play with an app, check social media platforms, and text a friend. Because smartphone users are already engaging with their phones, texting seems like an convenient and efficient method of communication.
Interestingly, almost an equal percentage of teens without smartphones prefer social media (29%) as a primary communication method to the 30% that prefer texting. In contrast, only 17% of teens with smartphones list social media first. Teens without a smartphone can use social media through a desktop or tablet. However, while accessibility is important, so is usage. Teenagers have a different approach to social media. After all, teens spend hours at school with their friends. And without a driver’s license, hangouts require advanced planning and parent intervention. So while many adults use texting to meet up with friends and social media to highlight these moments, teens approach social media differently. Instead, they utilize social media for content sharing. Teenagers post YouTube clips on Facebook walls. Or, they tweet funny Vines to friends. The options are endless. And social media, not texting, makes content sharing easy. These teens may not feel the need to text friends, but share content to discuss at school the next day.
Conversations about teens and cellphones focus on safety- parents want a way to contact their child in case of an emergency. Then, there’s a concern about smartphones interfering with attention in school or exposing them inappropriate apps. But until this study, information about communication and different types of cellphones has been overlooked. When considering how important texting is to teens and friendship, and the role of a smartphone, will this change parent’s decision making process? Or is this look more informative than applicable? Comment and let us know.