The vast majority of teenagers have a cell phone and older girls are leading use by sending more than 100 text messages a day, according to a new report.

About eight in 10 teens had a cell phone in 2011, a number that hasn’t changed much since 2009, according to a survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. About three in 10 teens 14 to 17 said they own a smartphone.

But 87 percent percent of older teens ages 14 to 17 said they had a cell phone, compared to 57 percent of 12- and 13-year-old users. Yet younger users aren’t snapping up devices as quickly. The number of 12- and 13-year-olds with cell phones dropped to 57 percent from 66 percent.

The data comes amid debate in Congress on how to protect the privacy and safety of youth, who have become voracious communicators and Internet users of devices.

“Straddling childhood and adulthood, they communicate frequently with a variety of important people in their lives: friends and peers, parents, teachers, coaches, bosses and a myriad of other adults and institutions,”said Amanda Lenhart, author of the report.

Older female teens were the most hyper-texting of respondents, saying they nearly doubled the number of texts they send and receive each day. They send or receive a median of 100 texts a day, or four texts an hour.

Boys and black youth are fast-growing users of text messages. Boys text about 50 times a day and black teens texted 80 times a day compared to 60 in 2009. And just one percent of respondents said they send a text message less than once a week.

Location based services, that track where users are based on geo-location features of the phone, aren’t popular. Just one in 20 use location technology.

Pew used landline and cell phone calls for their survey of nearly 1,000 teens.


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