Motivations for Text Messaging: Gender and Age Differences among Young Adults

By Morrill, Torrey B.; Jones, Randall M. et al. | North American Journal of Psychology, March 2013 | Go to article overview

Motivations for Text Messaging: Gender and Age Differences among Young Adults


Morrill, Torrey B., Jones, Randall M., Vaterlaus, J. Mitch, North American Journal of Psychology


One of the most pervasive technological influences over the past two decades has been the cell phone. "Like the television in the 1950s and Internet in the 1990s, mobile telephony has emerged as one of the defining technologies of our time" (Campbell & Park, 2008, p. 371). Mobile technology has rapidly become an essential communication tool. Although the United States of America (U.S.) has been slower to adopt mobile technology than European and Asian countries, the U.S. has made quantum leaps over the past decade. In 1995 nearly 34 million people in the U.S. had a cell phone; as of 2006, the number of subscribers was 233 million, or 76% of the U.S. population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2008). According to the Pew Institute, cell phone ownership among U.S. adults age 18+ has grown from 65% in 2004 to 82% in 2010 (Smith, 2011). Now that cell phone ownership is nearly universal, teachers, parents, scholars, and researchers are beginning to ponder the social and psychological ramifications of this technology.

One of the biggest surprises surrounding the growth of mobile communication technology is the acceptance and widespread use of cell phones among youth (Ling, 2005). People of all ages are now able to multitask and be distracted by any event at any time. The phenomenal increase in cell phone ownership among adolescents and young adults has motivated researchers to ponder how these technologies might influence social skills, social interaction, and social activity. For instance, behaviors such as texting while driving (Lee, 2007), staying up late to communicate with friends (Van den Bulck, 2003), frequent communication with select others (Bryant, Sanders-Jackson, & Smallwood, 2006), and ease of cheating in school (Campbell, 2006) have already elicited scholarly attention.

It is clear that cell phones are desired by members of the younger generation. Among Smith's (2011) nationally representative sample, 96% of U.S. residents aged 18 to 29 owned a cell phone in 2011: the estimate for all U.S. adults (82%) was somewhat lower. Teens and young adults use the short message service (SMS: text messaging) more than any other age group, and they use their cell phones for voice-to-voice communication less frequently than any other age group (Horrigan, 2008; Rainie & Keeter, 2006; Reid & Reid, 2007). Seventy-two percent of U.S. adults use their phones to send and receive text messages (Smith, 2011) and this estimate is consistent across ethnicity (70% White/Anglo, 76% Black, 83% Hispanic). Smith also reported that nearly half (49%) of these text messages (average, 39 per day) provided a means to say hello or to chat, or simply to connect with significant others.

Because the United States has been slower to adopt mobile technology than countries in Europe and Asia (Campbell & Park, 2008), much of what we know about the social and psychological impacts of cell phone use has come from research conducted outside of the United States. The U.S. is just beginning to see the impact of widespread cell phone use, and as a result researchers are beginning to study how people in the United States are using mobile technology (Castells et al., 2007).

Much of the existing cell phone research has been exploratory, often viewing cell phone use from a functional perspective in an effort to identify relations between use and practical variables such as fashion, affection, safety, mobility, relaxation, reassurance, planning, and immediate access (Fortunati, 2001; Leung & Wei, 2000; Ling, 2000; Reid & Reid, 2007). Smith (2011) surveyed 2,277 adults (age 18+) and found that cell phones provide a sense of safety (91%), convenience (88%), and entertainment (39%). A few studies have documented distinct gender differences in communication patterns, perceived emancipation from parents, and emotional reliability (Ling, 2001, 2005; Ling & Yttri, 2005; Park, 2005; Vincent, 2006). Even fewer studies have documented psychosocial outcomes attributable to cell phone use in areas of social networking and identity development (Castells et al. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Motivations for Text Messaging: Gender and Age Differences among Young Adults
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.