Blog: Twenty words for twenty somethings – the mobile habits of under 35s

Alex Walls
July 1, 2013

Those under the age of 30 will reportedly use just under 20 words in a typical text, and value data over texting or voice for their mobile services. conducted a survey of 550 “twentysomethings”, or those aged 20 to 30 years old, into their texting habits and found on average, 19.7 words were used in a typical text, while 4.2 texts were sent per day.

The company went on to extrapolate this to 30,200 words a year or nearly two million words in one lifetime and compared this, in a flight of literary fancy, with Shakespeare’s complete works written twice over, or War and Peace three times over.

As a twentysomething who has read a few of the Bard’s offerings and attempted War and Peace (I read the first page, anyway), I’d say not only the literary quality of both would far exceed the screeds produced by texting young adults, but also the legibility; I still have difficulty deciphering acquaintances various attempts: ‘B thr sn, n sprmkt, wmn n frnt tryn 2 bi frg lgs fm cnfsd chk out prsn’ – what?!

Analysys Mason conducted its Connected Consumer Survey 2013, asking 6610 consumers in France, Germany, Poland, Spain, the UK and the United States aged 18 and over, found that 40 per cent of young smartphone owners used IP-based messaging, with 53 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds in the UK.  When choosing their next mobile service, data was a bigger factor than getting messaging or voice services, the report found.

The report found that by comparison, 20 per cent of those aged 65 or older used IP-based messaging, while 67 per cent used SMS  compared with 91 per cent of 18 to 34 year olds.

Report author Stephen Sale said that despite high penetration of IP-based alternatives, such as Viber or WhatsApp, it hadn’t yet taken over from SMS.  Operators needed to be proactive with changes to pricing structures and core feature sets in plans, he said, with Facebook and Google making advances in the area of Voice over Internet Protocol services such as Skype.

From personal experience, VoIP services are the only ones I use for overseas contact, and not just because of the cost (although that’s a big part of it; it’s now become an ingrained part of my behaviour and I find it easier to get my mind around.  Of course, were international call rates cheaper, it’d be easier to use your phone than a computer, and standard with flagship phones which can handle the video streaming and have good front facing cameras.

When it comes to texting, I’m a stickler for grammar and trying to slip in jokes, so my texts would tend toward the overly lengthy.  I’ve also noticed a lessening in ‘text language’, although it could just be that I know a lot of grammar fanatics; apart from ‘lol’ which has become almost part of our consciousness.

As for IP services, I’d use them if more of my friends did, and if they worked better, and if data plans offered a bit more.  In general, they’re cheap and as easy to use as texting – I have run into consistent problems with Viber, however, despite deleting and re-installing a few times.  The main hold up is lack of proliferation – as mentioned in the Analysys survey, not enough people that I text use these services for me to switch to them.

In the end, whatever form ‘texting’ takes – from traditional SMS to the IP based services on offer now – the true joy of winging small text-based messages to your friends will never cease, so long as phone manufacturers keep installing bizarre word recognition software and dictionaries into their handsets.

I’m speaking, of course, about the unintentional hilarity that are autocorrects, courtesy of



















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