If teens seem to be glued to their cellphones, it's because they're texting about as many times an hour as you might suspect they say "like" -- an average of 3,417 texts a month, according to a new survey from the analytics firm Nielsen. To put that information in even more staggering terms, they send an average of seven texts every hour they're awake.
In terms of chattiness, girls far surpassed boys. The girls sent and received 3,952 messages per month compared to a paltry 2,815 by the boys (and by paltry, we mean significantly less, but still a mind-boggling lot).
Nielsen collected the latest data from the monthly cellphone bills of 65,000-plus subscribers, which the firm described on its blog as part of the "Mobile Data Tsunami." Data consumption is one of the ways Nielsen measures cellphone use, and it includes texting, social networking, downloading apps and using the mobile Internet.
Teens' mobile data use is growing at a faster rate than that of any other group: They used an average of 320 MB per month, which is a 256 percent increase over last year. That means they've tripled their mobile data consumption since 2010. Yes. Tripled. In. One. Year.
Of course, there's one phone function that teens aren't utilizing at high rates, and that's the whole "dial a number and speak to someone" option. Among the age groups surveyed, voice usage dropped the most for teens, from an average of 685 minutes to 572 minutes every three months.
And then there's the matter of what rarely speaking on the phone (or in person) might potentially do to teens' social skills. (Their thumbs seem to do the lion's share of the work, after all.) Researchers don't know exactly how technology is affecting how the young talk and interact, but they've started conducting studies to find out.
National Public Radio pointed out last year that despite their heavy reliance on cellphones, teens still have their wits about them when it counts. Amanda Lenhart of the Pew Research Center told NPR that in one study, "we heard from teens who said, 'When I want the yes, I'll go to the phone because my parents can hear my voice, and I can wheedle and charm them, and that's how I'm going to get what I want.'"