Ever texted while taking a shower? Or asked someone on a date—or broken up with them—by text? As it turns out, you’re not alone. Much like the telephone transformed the way people communicated, texting is rewriting rules and creating its own etiquette as the communication method of choice for the modern age.
Recently, Podium surveyed U.S. adults to gauge their thoughts on and use of texting. The results show that people of all ages are increasingly turning to texting, not calls, to communicate in person. The overwhelming majority of respondents—77 percent—reported having texted someone in the same room, and nearly a quarter said they do so at least once a day.
Even important life events are increasingly playing out via text message—not just around personal issues, but also in the workplace. Sixteen percent of respondents have quit a job over text, while 8 percent have been fired the same way. Texting is casually integrated in places and situations in which telephone calls would be impractical or rude, too. For example, one in ten admitted to texting while in a verbal conversation with their boss at work.
Conversely, a quarter of respondents said they wouldn’t check a voicemail from an unknown number, and almost one in five said they didn’t know what their own voicemail message sounded like. The preference for texting over calling holds across generations, with the overwhelming majority—regardless of age— saying they were more likely to respond by text than to call someone back. And texting is faster than calling, too: 55 percent of respondents said they checked texts within 30 seconds of receiving them, and 70 percent said they checked their messages within a minute of getting a text.
Though it might have once been regarded as a fad for the young, texting’s convenience and directness has made it the preferred method of communication for many. Texting means you’re never that far away from anyone—even if they’re in the shower.
Texting is increasingly replacing speaking in person
- 77 percent of respondents have texted somebody in the same room as them, and 70 percent have texted someone within just 100 feet
- Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of respondents text somebody in the same room at least once a day, and 40 percent do so at least weekly
- Millennials are the most likely to be texting in the same room, while boomers are least likely (40 percent of those 55+ have never texted someone in the same room)
For many, important life events play out via text message
- 40 percent of respondents have found out a loved one passed away via text, followed by 30 percent who have told someone that a loved one passed away via text
- 36 percent of respondents have gotten asked out on a first date by somebody via text, while 23 percent have asked someone on a first date via text; another 27 percent have been dumped by a significant other over text, and 25 percent have been the one doing the dumping.
- 16 percent have quit a job via text message, and nearly one in 10 (8 percent) have been fired by a job via text
- 18 percent found out a sibling was pregnant text message, with 10 percent reporting they have found out their spouse was pregnant by text—and 5 percent have used text to break the news to their spouse
And we check text messages anywhere and everywhere
- During a movie at a movie theater: 52 percent
- While driving a car: 49 percent
- While taking a shower or bath: 41 percent
- During a live concert: 39 percent
- While in a verbal argument with your significant other: 31 percent
- During church service: 30 percent
- During an in-person business/work meeting: 25 percent
- During a wedding ceremony: 20 percent
- During a first date: 20 percent
- In a dentist chair while dental work is being performed: 16 percent
- While in a verbal conversation with your boss at work: 12 percent
- During a funeral ceremony: 12 percent
- During a job interview: 7 percent
Most still have voicemail enabled, but usage is dwindling
- More than one in 10 respondents (13 percent) don’t have voicemail set up on their phone
- 94 percent of those ages 45 to 54 have voicemail set up, while only 77 percent of those ages 18 to 24 do
- About a quarter of respondents (24 percent) say they haven’t left a voicemail for someone in the past month
- The percentage goes down with age:
- 18 to 24: 31 percent
- 25 to 34: 24 percent
- 35 to 44: 22 percent
- 45 to 54: 22 percent
- 55+: 19 percent
- The percentage goes down with age:
- A quarter of respondents (25 percent) noted that they typically won’t listen to voicemail(s) from an unknown number that is left on their phone
- A full 10 percent of respondents noted that they won’t typically listen to a voicemail from a number they are familiar with
- Nearly one in five respondents (17 percent) don’t know what their own voicemail message says
- Women are more likely than men not to know (19 percent of women vs. 13 percent of men)
- 14 percent of respondents say their voicemail inbox is currently full, with another 5 percent not sure
- Men are more likely to have a full voicemail inbox (19 percent) than women (12 percent)
- Millennials are most likely to have a full voicemail inbox (18 percent), while only 7 percent of those 55+ do
Info in text messages reaches us faster than voicemails, and a text message is more likely to get a response than a voicemail
- Only 5 percent of respondents will wait more than 5 minutes to open a text message, compared to 30 percent that will wait that long to listen to a voicemail from someone they’re familiar with and 42 percent if it’s an unknown caller
- 42 percent of respondents say they’ll probably or definitely call back in response to a voicemail, while 48 percent may or may not, and 10 percent admit they probably or definitely won’t
- Older respondents are significantly more likely to call back than younger respondents (22 percent of those 55+ say they definitely will call back versus 11 percent of those 18 to 24)
- 3 in 4 respondents (76 percent) say they’ll probably or definitely text back in response to a text message, while 1 in 5 (20 percent) may or may not, and just 4 percent say they probably or definitely won’t
- Even though older respondents are more likely than younger respondents to respond to a voicemail, older respondents are still more responsive via text than voicemail (with 32% saying they’ll definitely text back versus 22% saying they’ll definitely call back)
About the Findings
The January 2019 study collected responses via an online survey from 1,022 U.S. adults ages 18 to 64. The survey was conducted in partnership with Survata.