SMS v Voice Mail: Text Please

how americans use text messaging

How Americans Use Text Messaging: Voice Mail v SMS

My cellphone greeting to callers asks for a text rather than a voice mail. It’s an artifact of my life with a Samsung Blackjack that did not reliably or clearly indicate when I’d missed a call. That was before my iPhone, back when I had to wade through a series of keypad prompts to get to messages and then listen to them one-at-a-time.

Periodically, I think about tweaking my greeting, now that I have visual voice mail. But I never seem to get around to it. A new report from Pew will extend my procrastination.

Pew’s research shows that 8-in-10 American adults now own cellphones; three-quarters of those folks use SMS (short message service, aka texting).

The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project asked those texters in a survey how they prefer to be contacted on their cell phone and 31% said they preferred texts to talking on the phone, while 53% said they preferred a voice call to a text message.

Almost 1-in-3 people prefer a text message to talking on the phone.  Another 14 percent said the preferred contact method was situational.

I can’t say that I always prefer text to voice — there are times when only real-time voice communication can get the job done. But I certainly prefer text to a voice mail.

  • Text messages force the person contacting me to be brief, to the point
  • I can read a text message far faster than I can listen to a voice mail, and it’s not just because the text message is right there and the voice mail requires additional fiddling to hear. I can scan a text; I have to listen to a voice mail as it was constructed.

Time-wise, text messages privilege the recipient of the message (it takes less time to read than listen) and voice mail privileges the sender (it takes less time to speak than type).

I’m not a typical cellphone customer, for voice or texts. According to Pew’s work, the median user sends or receives 10 texts every day. Not me. Not even close (my use is “under” the median). I’m even below average for my age group (but close to the median).

You are more likely to be an SMS power user if you are aged 18-29 (87.7 message/month on average), black (70.1 messages/month on average), or have an income of less than $30,000 (58.7 messages/month on average).

Here’s the report: How Americans Use Text Messaging

Thanks to +Laurel Ruma for sharing +Dwight Silverman‘s column in the Houston Chronicle.

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