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Study: As more teens own smartphones, less are actually using them to make calls


There’s a reason the typical image of a 21st century teen seem to revolve around a self-centered young adult clicking away on their cellphones and off in their own world. A study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project states that more teens are starting to own smartphones than ever, yet the rate of phone calls have significantly fallen.

In 2009, 30 percent of teens talk to their friends on a landline. This number has dropped down to 14 percent, with landline phones starting to disappear from most homes and replaced by individual cellphone plans. Just 26 percent of teens use their cellphones to make calls, a fall from 2009’s 38 percent.

Instead of calling each other, teens have bumped their daily texting count from 50 to 60 texts a day, making this medium the most popular form of communication. The study says approximately 75 percent of all teens text, and their daily texting count increases with age. As teens get older, they go anywhere from a median of 60 to 100 texts a day, with girls being more chatty than their male counterparts. At least that much hasn’t change.

But could you blame the teens? Texting is fast, efficient, and they can easily do so under the table during dinner or quietly in their room so parents can’t tell they are on the phone to be curious about who they might be on the phone with. Texting provide teens a more private way to talk to their friends, unless parents take away their phones or snoop around. Keeping up with who kids are texting is also more difficult, since billing statement list individual texts and phone numbers separately instead of how many texts are associated with one number. In contrast, parents used to be able to see how many minutes were spent with one number per call. It also seem teens are getting very good with their hand-eye coordination and text at olympian rates — with minimal typos and maximum trendy slangs and emoticons.

Teens also reportedly prefer texting over any other forms of daily communication given the option, with 63 percent of the study pool saying they prefer to exchange text messages with people in their lives over phone calls (both via landline and cellphone), face-to-face interactions, social network messaging, and instant messaging. At the dead last spot is the dying art of e-mailing, with only six percent of teens opting to write drawn out messages when they can text shorter sentences on their phones. E-mails have easily become the new letter.

Lastly, the study cites that younger adults are also beginning to own smartphones as “dumb phones” start to phase out of the market. About 23 percent of those between the ages of 12 to 17 now own smartphones and six percent of all teen smartphone owners use location-based apps like Foursquare. Parents should talk to their smartphone-owning teens and make sure their privacy settings are appropriate so kids are not in danger of stalkers and predators following them around.