If you've been flustered about your teen's obsession with texting and cellphones and the subsequent drain on your wallet, you aren't alone.
A report by Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, found that daily texting or text messaging skyrocketed among American teens.
Thirty-eight percent of teens were texting daily in February 2008. That shot to 54% in September 2009. If you think those numbers are making cell phone companies grin, here's more reason for them to cheer. Half of teens send 50 or more text messages a day, and one in three send more than 100 texts a day.
"Text messaging has become the primary way that teens reach their friends, surpassing face-to-face contact, email, instant messaging and voice calling as the go-to daily communication tool for this age group," the Pew report said.
The saving grace? Voice calling is still the preferred mode for reaching parents for most teens, the report found.
C. Britt Beemer of America's Research Group that analyzes consumer behavior said he hopes this is a passing phase. "I am worried about what texting does with young people's reading and writing skills," Beemer said in a phone interview. "You can text all you want and still get an "F" in English."
Beemer says there might be a time in the future when cell phone companies realize they can mint money on this and start charging more for texts.
So, what should you do to protect yourself from a humongous bill at the end of the month?
- Find a plan that allows unlimited texting.
- If you want to keep a check on the number of texts and calls, find a pre-paid plan where the phone dies when the minutes expire.
- Enroll in a family plan, and share your minutes.
- Look for traps such as basic monthly charge, per minute rate if minutes are exceeded and long distance rates.
- Most importantly, shop, shop and compare before locking yourself into a plan.