Distraction Free Friday: Teens Using Cell Phones To Text, Not Talk

By Melanie Batenchuk
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(ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images)

(ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images)

The proliferation of mobile technology has impacted our lives from all aspects – from our jobs, keeping in touch with family and friends, to shopping and watching our favorite TV programs. Access to the internet is becoming easier and easier.

According to new data from NHTSA, 16- to 24-year-old drivers visibly manipulating mobile devices while driving are on the rise, jumping from 1.5 percent in 2010 to 3.7 percent in 2011.  At the same time, other research suggests that teens prefer to use text messaging to communicate over talking on the phone.

A 2012 Pew Internet study found that more than 77 percent of adolescents own a smartphone, and 75 percent of all American teenagers text message. Fewer than 40 percent of teenagers use their mobile phones to make calls. Here are a few telling stats from that research:

Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of all teens say they exchange text messages every day with people in their lives. This number far exceeds the frequency with which teenagers choose to do the following:

  • Place a phone call by cell phone. Only 39 percent do that with others each day.
  • Partake in face-to-face socializing outside of school – just 35 percent of today’s teens.
  • Message others through social networking sites. This may surprise those who think teenagers run the social media sphere – only 29 percent of them use it to communicate regularly with friends.
  • Talking on a landline, accounting for 19 percent of adolescent communications.
  • Emailing others was the least popular form of communication for American teenagers, coming in at a meek six percent.

How do you think mobile tech innovations impact teens and their ability to drive safely?


About Melanie Batenchuk:  Melanie Batenchuk is the founder and editor of Be Car Chic, a website dedicated to sharing industry news and automotive advice. She is recognized as a subject matter expert within the auto community, particularly in the areas of consumer advice and distracted driving. Melanie also heads the automotive sector practice as Vice President at Beekeeper Group, a public affairs firm in Washington, D.C.

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