While the mobile messaging market is becoming inundated by a raft of new instant and over-the-top services, SMS continues to play a key role in many people’s lives as the principal mechanism to interact with friends, family, loved-ones and colleagues. So why, when there are so many ways to connect and communicate today, do we still love to use text? This very question really intrigued us, so to help us understand the psychology behind SMS we conducted a simple study across 2,000 UK and US consumers, questioning the texting habits of different age groups and genders, with the results evaluated psychologist and internet-enabled communication expert Graham Jones. This is what we found out…mobile marketing service
Men text more, women lext more
We weren’t surprised to find out that when it came to text, men are the more functional sex. They turn to text to communicate with more contacts than women, typing shorter messages, and probably viewing it as a convenient way to converse and get straight to the point to avoid lengthy phone calls. Unsurprisingly, women were more likely to send longer text messages (41%), with 54% admitting to saying ‘I love you’ via SMS, using text as a personal way to develop 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 across both men and women!
Psychologist and expert in internet-enabled communication Graham Jones, told us: “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.”
Whatever our age we all still text – but for different reasons
Our study showed that a staggering 94% of 18-35 years olds send SMS, with 18-25 year olds sending an average of 19 text messages per day, or 133 messages a week, more than double any other age group. We also found that the over 55s category text to communicate with family (55%) whereas the under 25s are more socially focused and prefer to message their friends (45%) over family (19%).
So why do still need text?
Over half of all respondents said they still need text or would be lost without it (69%), preferring it over other messaging services because of the immediacy – speed of delivery – (40%) and reach (40%).
Jones believes that text messaging remains popular as it is a trustworthy and reliable service. “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. Text messaging remains a functional communication tool, but still with a personal aspect, which could explain its longevity. You can also say things in text you wouldn’t necessarily say on another communication tool.”
So 20 years on, this is why we rely on and still love text!