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Pew: One-third surveyed prefer texting to talking

Study finds texters from 18-24 likely to have the most buff thumbs. Minorities, folks in households that make less than $30,000 a year also spend more time rocking the tiny keyboard.

Just one of an average 110 sent or received in a day...
CC Moriza

More of us are letting our thumbs do the talking.

According to a new Pew study, 83 percent of American adults own cell phones and 73 percent of them send and receive text messages. Pew surveyed more than 2,200 people and asked those who text to cite their preferred way of being contacted on their cell phone. Almost a third--31 percent--said texting, while 53 percent said they prefer a voice call and 14 percent say it depends on the situation.

Texters in the 18- to 24-year-old range are likely to have the most buff thumbs. Pew finds the average young adult in that range sends or receives an average of 109.5 texts per day, or about 3,200 per month. About a quarter of 18- to 24-year-olds fit into the hard-core 100-plus-texts-per-day demographic. The median texter in that age group sends or receives about 50 texts a day.

One thing for demographics and data nerds to watch in the coming years is whether the college-age texters of today keep up that alphanumeric pace as they age. Pew's latest data shows a steep drop-off in texting among the next age group, those between 25 and 34 years of age, who send less than half the number of texts that their younger counterparts dash off, by both mean and median measures.

From there it's a gentle decrease in number of texts sent as you move up the demographic age chart until you reach the 65-plus group, which sends and receives an average of less than five texts per day.

Screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET

Young people aren't the only group spending more time texting, however. Minorities and folks in households that make less than $30,000 a year also spend more time rocking the tiny keyboard. Pew finds black and Hispanic texters both text twice as much per day as the median white, non-Hispanic texter. By the same token, the median texter in the lowest income bracket recorded by Pew sends twice as many texts per day as people in the highest income brackets.

Of course you can't judge a man by the measure of his broad demographic profile--looking at my monthly texting usage, I'd appear to be a well-to-do retiree. While neither of these things are anywhere near the truth, perhaps if I keep it up I'll be able to convince my carrier I deserve a senior discount.