A little over a year ago, my husband and I got into an argument over texting.
At the time, we had no texting plan. Our kids were still young so it wasn’t necessary, but I was just discovering the world of text–-and liking it. It’s pretty handy, you know, for getting babysitters, making plans, checking on friends.
So at 25 cents a text, I was starting to drive up our phone bill by say, $15 dollars a month. Not enough to warrant an unlimited plan, but enough to annoy my husband.
Now it’s hard for me to believe that was just over a year ago. Because today, we are a full-fledged texting family.
Last summer I entered the 21st century and purchased a smartphone. Once I had that, a text plan (along with a data plan) was essential. I was totally sold on texting.
Then Maggie, our oldest, got a cell phone for her 13th birthday. And that was all she wrote.
After she’d had the phone for just two weeks, my husband happened to check her usage online.
“How many texts do you think she’s sent?” he asked me.
I estimated maybe 500. Wrong. It was over 2,000. Yikes!
Her second month, she hit 3,998. That same month I had just 181 texts, and my husband had 75 (he’s still avoiding texting as much as he can-–and he still has the old flip phone that you have to hit numbers multiple times to text).
But apparently Mags is right in line with other kids her age. According to recent analysis by Neilsen of 65,000 mobile subscribers who volunteered to participate in the research, teens exchange an average of 3,417 text messages per month, more than any other age group tracked. That’s an average of seven messages per waking hour!
So what could they possibly be talking about?
Earlier this week, I asked my daughter a few questions about her texting. Who does she text with most? Her best friend Mackenzie; her friend, David, from Rhode Island, and a guy friend from school.
And here’s how a normal conversation might go:
“we have to take a spelling test. I think im going to fail”
“oh really 😉
ya I cant spell
“pretty good u”
“my x is sooo annoying”
“haha that’s too bad”
Deep stuff. But I remember having lengthy, meaningless conversations with my friends on the phone when I was 13. I’d stretch the cord out of the kitchen and into the dining room so my mother couldn’t hear what we were talking about. It was deep stuff.
Today’s teens aren’t talking on the phone much compared to texting. According to the Neilsen study, voice usage declined from an average of 685 minutes a month to 572 minutes in this age group.
Apparently texting is faster, easier and more fun, the study respondents said. And it doesn’t require stretching the cord into the other room.
On the upside, even my daughter was a little bit taken aback by the number of texts she had exchanged last month. It also bothered her that we can see how much she’s texting. So this week, she’s been spending more time jumping on our trampoline and less time attached to her phone.
I’ll let you know if the numbers go down, but I doubt they will. She got three texts while she was reading over this blog.
FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Magazine editor Betsy Stein who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 13, Lilly, 11, Adam, 11, and Jonah, 7.
Photo by Dawn Kearney