Tag Archives | text messaging

Teens Texting More Than Ever

Texting has now become the primary means of communication between teenagers according to a new study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. The average teen will send and receive some 1,500 text messages per month, although many will surpass that. A third send some 3,000 texts per month, and 15 percent 6,000 or more.

Girls by far are the more prolific messagers, as they send some 80 texts per day on average. Boys send much less, about 30.

“The widespread availability of unlimited texting plans has transformed communication patterns of American teens, many of whom now conduct substantial portions of their daily conversations with their friends via texting,” senior researcher Amanda Lenhart said.

Some have bypassed the texting craze, however: Pew found that 22 percent send and receive less than 10 text messages per day.

Pew found that 75% of teens now have cell phones, up from 45% in 2004.


Supreme Court to Hear 'Sexting' Case

The Supreme Court today is set to hear arguments surrounding a case involving so-called ‘sexting’ on a company-owned pager, of which the decision they make could have broad implications for employee privacy rights in the workplace.

California SWAT Sergeant Jeff Quon was given a pager by his employer, the Ontario, Calif. police department. While the device was meant for work use, Quon was found to have sent sexually-charged text messages to both his wife and his mistress.

Apparently, Quon sent so many texts that it triggered overage charges and an investigation into excessive texting within the department. While Quon did pay for the overage charges out of his own pocket, he complained that he thought the message content was confidential.

He and his mistress — a dispatcher — sued the department and the paging company over privacy violations, as well as another police officer for an unrelated matter. A lower court decided in favor of the employees in 2008, but the defendants appealed.

Now the Supreme Court will hear the case, which could vastly affect employee rights. As technology becomes more prevalent allowing employees to work from anywhere, work-provided electronics are seeing more and more personal use. While many companies provide clear-cut policies on personal use, some do not.

Some go as far as to use the information they find by peering onto their employee’s devices as grounds for termination. But in recent court cases, the courts have sided with the employees generally, making it hard for employers to use damaging information they find.

Whatever the Supreme Court decides, I believe the responsibility lies on the employee. You should know your company’s policies on proper use of company-provided equipment. If that means no personal use, then for the sake of your job security, you buy your own.

However, if there is no policy — or lax polices as in the case of the Ontario Police Department — use your head. Sending a multitude of sexually explicit text messages is definitely not. Don’t be so damn stupid!


Dotgo: The Web via Text Messaging

Dotgo LogoLots of Web sites use SMS short codes to let users retrieve quick hits of information–movie listings, weather, and the like–via text messages on their mobile phones. Which is cool, except for the fact that the codes (short though they may be) are tough to remember.

Here at DEMOFall, a company called Dotgo is launching a service that aims to make SMS text services more powerful and usable. Instead of texting an individual service (such as Google’s GOOGLE, or 466453) you text the name of a site to DOTCOM (or 368266). It responds with instructions on accessing the service in question–for instance, you can get Fandango movie listings by texting Fandango + your Zip code.

Fandango on Dotgo

And it looks like Dotgo isn’t fazed by sites that have made no provisions for text-message access. Such as, oh, Technologizer–it lets you read our posts via SMS (albeit in pretty unwieldy form–it has to chop them up into 160-character chunks, sans graphics):

Technologizer on Dotgo
Why would you use Dotgo on a phone with a capable Web browser, such as the iPhone? Well, you probably wouldn’t. Dotgo says it wants to bring the service to the millions of phones out there–especially in developing nations such as Africa–that have SMS capability but no real Web access. Makes sense to me.


Texting Rotting Teen Brains

As interpersonal commnication dies even further with our ever more voracious appetite for communicating by electronic means, the issue of health is coming back up once again.

Psychologists and physicians are beginning to worry that our teens are becoming distracted, sleep deprived, and even anxious as a result of an increase in the use of texting, the New York Times reports.

Studies are showng that some teens may be sending hundreds of texts every day. With such little time available during the day, you’ve got to think some of these kids are texting well into the night.

Long before texting, Moms were complaining about their kids not getting enough sleep. Their newfound affinity for texting is probably making that much worse. Some doctors are going as far to argue that texting is slowing the seperation process from our parents, as it allows kids to stay in touch with their parents that much easier.

The rise of text messaging is rather recent, so its really hard to say exactly if its having any kind of effect on our health. However, frequent texters are sometimes experiencing issues akin to repetitive stress injuries, especially in the thumbs.

Are we blaming too much on the kids, though? Look at some parents, connected to the world via their BlackBerrys and iPhones. Some of us are just as addicted to our devices, and you know what they say: people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.


Shocker! Carriers are Profiting Handsomely from Texting

Here’s one that isn’t surprising to me in the least: a New York Times investigation into text messaging indicates that it costs carriers virtually nothing to provide the service. This means those extra fees you pay just for the privilege of texting are essentially pure profit for these folks.

Even further, text messaging fees are the subject of a new Congressional inquiry that is looking into why text messaging fees have doubled over the past few years.

As late as 2005 it only cost 10 cents for a user to send a text message. Then over the next three years all carriers increased the cost to 20 cents, without much of an explanation at all.

Sen. Herbert Kohl (D-Wis.) is the chairman of the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee. Kohl has asked the big four carriers to justify the costs of text messaging to consumers.

Their responses? How their pricing plans work, but not a justification of their charges to actually provide the service. Obviously their stonewalling isn’t working: no less than 20 lawsuits are currently in progress around the country over text messaging fees.

Really, it costs these carriers nothing to transmit these messages, because they are so small. Furthermore, these come at no costs to degradation of service: texts travel on what is called a “control channel.” This is the same part of the network that instructs a tower how to handle a call, and is seperate from the rest of the network altogether.

So why the exhorbitant fees? That’s a good question. There was a point in time not so long ago when carriers (T-Mobile notably) offered texting as part of their plans.. and a good deal of them too. Now, they see that we’re all addicted to it, and plan to use that to their advantage and squeeze out every last penny that they can.