The advertisements are everywhere one looks. Mobile telecommunication operators in Pakistan are advertising packages for cheap short messaging service (SMS) rates as the service continues to be incredibly popular in the country.
While some use text messages as a way to keep in touch with friends, many have set up their own messaging services and target people with themed messages that range from jokes and games to inspirational quotes and religious messages. Fawwad Hashmey, a senior software developer, receives around 900 texts while he sends about 3,000 every month. For Qumber Rizvi, a high school student, the number is more or less the same.
Zainab Abbas, 24, is a mother of two and a homemaker. She sends and receives about 4,060 text messages every month including both personal and forwarded messages each of which goes to a list of her 30 friends. Abbas remains connected to her friends through what she calls “the cheapest form of communication.”
However, many youngsters prefer using text messages for important communication only. “I prefer messaging only when I can’t make a call. Every day I receive around 50 messages, of which I only read 10 or 15. The others are deleted because I know they’re chain messages but I do forward a text every 15 days just to establish my presence,” said Sadia Raza, 24, a student of business studies. Kazim, 19, hardly sends or receives six messages (which are mostly personal) a day.
Text messaging is popular with teens worldwide, especially in the US. Market tracker Nielsen Co released a study on Thursday confirming that American teenagers love to use mobile phones to swap text messages.
“If it seems like American teens are texting all the time, it’s probably because on average they’re sending or receiving 3,339 texts a month,” Nielsen said in a release accompanying a study based on monthly mobile phone bills.
“That’s more than six per every hour they’re awake.”
Nielsen analysed data from more than 60,000 US mobile phone service subscribers in April, May and June.
“No one texts more than teens,” Nielsen said, pegging the top texting age bracket as between 13 and 17, “Especially teen females.”
Girls sent or received an average of 4,050 text messages monthly, while boys averaged 2,539 texts, according to the study.
Mobile phone users aged 18 to 24 were a distant second place, typically exchanging 1,630 text messages monthly or a “meagre” three texts per hour, Nielsen said.
The ability to exchange text messages has replaced safety as the top reason teenagers get mobile phones, according to the study.
The amount of voice calls made by US teenagers dropped by 14 per cent as compared with the same three-month period a year earlier, Nielsen reported.
Although the increasing trend of texting in US is similar to Pakistan, there is a difference in terms of the age groups of the users. Unlike the US, the obsession with text messaging is not restricted to teenagers.
With information by AFP
Published in The Express Tribune, October 16th, 2010.