Texting dominates teens’ general communication choices

When asked generally about how they communicate with people in their lives – not just about their friends, but about all kinds of people – teens point to text messaging as the dominant daily mode of communication. Among all teens:

  • 63% say that they use text to communicate with others every day.
  • 39% of teens make and receive voice calls on their mobile phones every day.
  • 35% of all teens socialize with others in person outside of school on a daily basis.
  • 29% of all teens exchange messages daily through social network sites.
  • 22% of teens use instant messaging daily to talk to others.
  • 19% of teens talk on landlines with people in their lives daily.
  • 6% of teens exchange email daily.

And increasingly, teens do not have the capability or the interest in exchanging instant messages or exchanging email. Nearly 2 in 5 teens say they never or cannot exchange instant messaging, and another 39% of teens say they never exchange email. Talking on a landline is also proving less popular, with 20% of teens saying they never or cannot talk on a landline.


How communication with friends has changed over time7

In addition to our general questions about how teens communicate with others, we also asked specific questions about how teens communicate with friends.

As discussed earlier in this report, texting and calling with friends via a mobile phone are the two most popular modes of communication with friends for teens. Daily text messaging with friends has remained stable since 2009 and daily voice calling with friends on cell phones has declined in the past two years, from 38% of teens calling friends daily on cells in 2009 to 26% two years later. This decline in voice calling on mobiles comes after 3 years of relatively stable findings for daily calls.

The only increase seen in communicating with friends is in messaging through social networks. Nearly 3 in 10 (29%) of teens communicate with friends daily through messages on social networks sites, up modestly from the 21% who did so daily in 2006. Messaging through social networks has shown a gradual increase over the past 6 years.

Email and instant messaging both show a gradual decline in daily use since 2006, with 23% of teens using instant messaging daily with friends, down from 28% in 2006. Email is even less used on a daily basis – 8% of teens say they email daily with friends, down from 14% in 2006. More than half (54%) of all teens now say they never use email to talk with friends, and one third of teens say they never use instant messaging or send messages via social media sites.

Face-to-face communication remains an important mode of communication with friends as well, though teens may be meeting with friends face-to-face outside of school a bit less frequently than they were in the past.  While the number of teens who meet with friends face-to-face on daily basis has declined slightly to 25% from 33% in 2009, teens who say they talk with friends face-to-face outside of school several times a week has increased to 37% from 28% in 2009.