When it comes to routine matters, British police have been ordered to fire off a text message rather than communicate using their radios, UK's Daily Mail reports. It's the latest movie in what the UK newspaper calls "unprecedented cutbacks."
Meanwhile, Airwave Solutions, the company which operates the emergency services communication system, is enjoying "massive" profits, with a profit margin higher than Vodafone. Pre tax profit was up 26 percent for the past 12 months.
"It was imperative to have a secure communications system. But it has come at a very high price. The advice we're being given from the top is to send texts as much as possible because it's going to cost a lot less money," laments Clive Chamberlain, chairman of the Dorset Police Federation.
According to Chamberlain, it costs as much as "£2 (about US$3.21) a second whenever we go over the limit. We are being told that texting more has the potential to save tens of thousands of pounds because it costs only £4 (about US$6.43) to send 1,000 texts."
Neither the Dorset Police or Airwaves would discuss pricing details, though Airwaves did say the per second charge was "misleading and inaccurate."
Granted it's no secret teenagers love to text, but if you want to back up that claim with some hard numbers, here you go. According to Nielsen, American teens send an average of 3,339 text messages every month. That equates to more than six texts for every hour they're awake, which is 8 percent more than it was last year.
To arrive at these figures, Nielsen combed through cell phone bills from more than 60,000 mobile subscribers, and on top of that surveyed over 3,000 teens. Predictably, Nielsen found that no one texts more than teens (13-17 years old), with female teens being the most active texters at 4,050 texts per month.
Texting has become such a prominent part of American culture that it's now the No. 1 reason for getting a phone (43 percent), same as it was in 2009 (42 percent). Coming in second is safety (35 percent), followed by keeping in touch with friends and family (34 percent and 26 percent, respectively), always being available (22 percent), and convenience (20 percent).
Jonesing for more? Texting is fast replacing voice communication. Nielsen says voice activity has decreased 14 percent a month among teens, who average 646 minutes of talk time each month.
"Only adults over 55 talk less than teens," Nielsen says.
It may have taken two years, but the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office finally approved a patent Apple filed in 2008 which sought to prevent users from sending or receiving "objectionable" text messages.
The patent doesn't use the term "sexting," however it's no secret that's what Apple was after. Here's how the patent reads:
"In one embodiment, the control application includes a parental control application. The parental control application evaluates whether or not the communication contains approved text based on, for example, objective ratings criteria or a user’s age or grade level, and, if unauthorized, prevents such text from being included in the text-based communication.
If the control contains unauthorized text, the control application may alert the user, the administrator or other designated individuals of the presence of such text. The control application may require the user to replace the unauthorized text or may automatically delete the text or the entire communication."
In other words, Apple just patented the censoring of text messages. But will it work as intended? If you've ever read a teenage text message, then you already know they speak a language all their own. Good luck to whatever algorithm is used to try and decipher covert sexting.
We're not sure what's more disheartening, the fact that Brianna Hendrickson, a 13-year-old from Brooklyn, New York text messages her friends and family 7,000 times a month, or that doing so prepared her to win this year's LG U.S. National Texting Championship and bring home $50,000 for her efforts.
Either way, little Miss Hendrickson has a good jump on her college tuition after beating out 500,000 other texters who participated in the challenge. During the final battle, Hendrickson triumphed over two other teens and a 48-year-old woman from Chicago by being the first to accurately type, "Old McDonald had a farm, Ei, ei, oh! And on this farm he had a champ. W/a txtr here, and BFF there. Here a text, there a text, erywhere a text-text!"
"I was really nervous when I saw the final phrase and worried my fingers wouldn't be fast enough," Hendrickson said. "Hearing my name announced was amazing and shocking all at the same time."
Hendrickson is now eligible to compete in the LG Text for Good Challenge, in which she could double her cash price, plus another $50,000 for a charity of her choosing.
Listen, we're not looking to spark a debate over marijuana, so let's not get sidetracked in the comments section. But no matter where you stand on the issue, we can all probably agree that texting your local sheriff looking to score a bag of weed is a dumb idea.
"Hey Dawg, do you have a $20 I can buy right now?," a teen from Helena, MT sent out in a text message.
In his haste to get high, the teen texted the above message to the wrong number, and out of all the wrong numbers he could have sent that message too, it ended up going to Sheriff Leo Dutton, who initially thought it was a joke.
"I'm thinking, 'Hey this is odd,'" Dutton said. "I was looking around to see if there was someone outside my window playing a prank."
There wasn't, so Dutton enlisted the help of the Missouri River Drug Task Force and set up a sting to catch the teen. It worked, with Dutton getting the parents involved. No citation was issued.
The moral of the story? Double check those digits before texting.
Call it a blatant stereotype if you will, but there's no way adult texters come close to text messaging teenage girls who send and receive thousands of texts every month. But that doesn't mean grownups are left living in the cell phone Stone Age, either. According to Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, 72 percent of adult cell phone owners now partake in texting.
That still trails teens in general (male or female), of which 87 percent of those who carry a mobile phone keep in contact with friends and family through text messaging. And we don't even want to know how the comparison breaks down when looking at the total number of messages whisked through the airwaves, though Pew Research revealed this stat anyway. On average, your teenage son or daughter (or YOU, as the case may be) send some 50 text messages every day, compared to the "typical 10 text messages" adults send and receive on a daily basis.
But let's forget about the quantity -- teens are always going to 'win' that one. What's interesting is the steady rise in the number of adults warming up to text messages. In December 2007, a little more than half -- 58 percent -- of adult cell phone owners participated in texting, and that number jumped to 65 percent in September 2009.
"It may be that folks have been pushed by pricing into unlimited texting plans, which has the effect of encouraging people with those plans to text more, because they no longer think of the cost, and then text more often," said Amanda Lenhart, Pew senior research specialist.
Melissa Thompson, a 27-year-old woman living in Salford, England, used to text message her boyfriend some 40 or 50 times per day. Now she holds the Guiness World Record for being the fastest typist on a phone, which she achieved using a Samsung Galaxy S smartphone.
Here's what Thompson typed to claim the record: "The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human."
The previous record for typing the above blip on a smartphone was held by Franklin Page of Seattle, who took 35.54 seconds to type it all out. But Thompson not only broke that record, she shattered it by nearly 10 seconds, taking only 25.94 seconds to punch out all the characters.
According to Thomspon, she's not up to speed on her texting, despite having set the record. The reason? She now lives with her boyfriend and no longer fires off dozens of messages to him each day.
At this point in the Information Age or Computer Age (or whatever historians are calling it now), we don't need a study to tell us that text messaging has become stupid popular. By that same token, we also don't need an infographic to state the obvious, but if you're looking for a new poster to hang on your doom room wall, Mashable's "U.S. & Worldwide Texting Trends" graphic might fit the bill.
Do we really need a study to tell us that teenagers like to send each other text messages? Apparently yes, because not only are teens into texting, but it's their go-to method of communication, says ChaCha, a text messaging question and answer service.
ChaCha polled nearly 1,500 teens and young adult users asking them: "What's your favorite way to communicate?" Here's how the answers stacked up.
Mobile Text: 67.53 percent
Other: 11.24 percent
Mobile Call/Voice: 9.22 percent
Facebook: 8.84 percent
Instant Message: 2.88 percent
Email: 0.29 percent
The highest percentage answer for "Other" was "In Person," so we do take some solace knowing that it was at least the second most preferred method of communication, but who are we kidding here, calling it a distant second would like be describing Godzilla as a lizard.
On a related note, teens and young adults said they'd miss their mobile phone the most if it was taken away (60.69 percent), followed by their PC (17.75 percent), radio (11 percent), and television (10.56 percent).
"Teens rely on their mobile devices as their primary medium, and they ask ChaCha over a million questions each day providing insights on their brand attitudes and actions," says Scott Jones, CEO of ChaCha."
Anthony Orsini is the principal of Benjamin Franklin Middle School in New Jersey, and he has some pretty strong feelings about middle school students using social networking. In a recent email to parents he said in no uncertain terms that parents should ban their children from using social networking sites like Facebook. "There is absolutely, positively no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site! None," said Orsini in the email.
Orsini's concern is the trend of so-called "cyber-bullying", which he feels has exacerbated problems in the school. The schools guidance counselor claims that about 75% of her day is spent dealing with issues connected to social networking. He goes on to suggest that parents install monitoring software on their computers and check their text messages regularly. Since you know, most parents can totally outsmart their tech savvy offspring.
The whole effort seems a bit confused by the assumption that everything on the internet is shady. At one point Orsini refers to Formspring as "one of the newest internet scourges, a site meant simply to post cruel things about people anonymously". That's news to us. Where do you come down? Should parents lock their kids out of Facebook and the like? Or is this just the new method of communication for that generation?