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Teens: Don't call us, we'll text you

Youths apparently like the ease and speed of texting over making voice calls--to the tune of more than six texts an hour. Other data use is on the rise too.

Should we still call them "phones"?

In a brief report released today, Nielsen, famous for its TV ratings, said American teens are communicating with their mobile pho-- um, mobile devices more often via texting, at the expense of voice calls.

During the second quarter, device users in the 13- to 17-year-old bracket sent or received more than six text messages every hour that they were awake, Nielsen said. That's an average of 3,339 texts a month, an 8 percent increase from last year. At the same time, voice activity decreased 14 percent--to 646 minutes, nearly 11 hours, of chatter per month--with many teens citing the ease and speed of texting over voice calls.

The breakdown by gender had teen females sending and receiving an average of 4,050 texts a month, while teen males sent and received an average of 2,539. (Girls also talked more, logging about 753 voice minutes a month versus about 525 for boys.)

Teens were far and away the most rapacious texters. The group in second place-- adults from 18 to 24 years old--logged 1,630 texts a month, about three per hour.

Not surprisingly, 43 percent of teens cited text messaging as their main reason for wanting a device and said QWERTY input was the first thing they checked out when shopping for a new gadget.

But texting wasn't the only draw. Total data usage, which also includes Web surfing, game playing, multimedia, downloading, and other such activities, jumped fourfold among teenagers, from 14MB to 64MB, with mobile Web use actually surpassing text messaging. Though teens didn't use data as much as young adults did, their increase in use was the highest among age groups, and it was driven by males--the gender equation flips here, with boys having gobbled 75MB of data (up from 17MB), and girls having bitten off 53MB (up from 11MB). Apps were, of course, also popular among teenagers, with a 12 percent increase in downloads year over year.

Nielsen compiled its data from the monthly mobile device bills of more than 60,000 mobile subscribers, along with survey responses from more than 3,000 teens.