Standpoint: Texting is still the killer app


Why do we still love to text? A messaging study by Acision and analysis by leading psychologist, Graham Jones, reveals the most common texting behaviours and why we still rely on text in the broadband era

The vast majority of smartphone users still text despite access to instant messaging and social networking messaging services.

According to a study of 2,000 respondents in the UK and US this year released from mobile messaging firm, Acision, 92% of those questioned prefer to use text over other forms of messaging.

Men use texting as a way to get out of deep and meaningful conversations while women use it to strengthen relationships. In terms of gender differences, men text a larger number of contacts than women, sending text messages to an average of 17 people regularly, compared to women who habitually text the same 13 people.

Psychologist Graham Jones who evaluated the study said that men most likely find texting a functional, easy way to communicate without getting into a conversation, so view it as a convenient way to get straight to a point and avoid lengthy phone calls.

Women, on the other hand, are more likely to send longer text messages (41%) or texts that say 'I love you' (54%), probably using it to deepen relationships. In the workplace for example, men are three times more likely to text a work colleague than women, however, as many as 15% of mobile users in the UK have called in sick via text message, again using text to avoid a conversation.

The research also uncovered differences in messaging habits across the age groups. Just 19% of young people communicate using services such as Skype and Twitter on their mobile, compared to 94% of 18 to 35 year olds who send SMS. The 18 to 25 year old bracket sends an average of 19 text messages per day, or 133 messages a week, more than double any other age group. Over 55 year olds mostly send text messages to reach family (55%), while only 19% of under 25s text their family with 45% of young people preferring to send messages to friends.

A key reason for sending an SMS rather than an instant message was reliability of SMS with 46% stating that SMS is more reliable than other messaging services. In addition, SMS is preferred over other messaging services because of the immediacy – speed of delivery (40%) – and reach (40%).

Jones commented: 'The fact that men communicate with more people doesn't mean that they are more social; men tend to be more practical sending short messages, compared to women who may text less people, but use text messages to deepen relationships. Age also plays a part in how people send text messages; older people tend to find typing with thumbs comes less naturally, which could lead to texting being less common. As mobile and text is a technology that young people have grown up with, they will naturally send more text messages. While teens thirty years ago may have phoned their friends as part of growing up and social development, nowadays they send text messages. The social reasons haven't changed, but the preferred communication method has.

'People today are also compartmentalising their messages as they all have a specific purpose,' Jones continued. 'Email is being used much less for personal communication and much more for business, whereas social networks tend to remain a medium to message friends and peers, sometimes on a one-to-many basis. Text messaging remains a functional communication tool, but still with a personal aspect, which could explain its longevity. You can say things in text you wouldn't necessarily say on another communication tool.

'Although there has been an influx in new broadband-based messaging services, which people are certainly experimenting with, people are differentiating services according to their need and using them as complimentary services as opposed to stopping usage of one or another messaging service.'

Jones concluded: 'The findings of this study show that text messaging remains popular, and I believe this comes down to trust and reliability. If a user sends a message via a social network, it may feel less immediate, and there are more technological hurdles which could hinder the delivery. Texting however often elicits an immediate response. Indeed, text messaging could become even more popular as it evolves and is used by more enterprises to reach consumers.  Additionally, the introduction of a plethora of new messaging services may mean that people may get confused and fall back on the reliable SMS. Running in the back of the human mind is the need to do everything with the least possible effort, and we instinctively search for the easiest way to communicate. This is why we rely on and still love text messaging.'


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