The text message celebrates its 20th birthday today, with the amount of texts trebling during the past five years to more than 150 billion.
According to the latest figures from Ofcom, the average UK consumer sends around 50 texts per week and despite the rise in social networking, the volume of texts has grown from 51 billion in 2006 to over 150 billion last year. Teens are the most prolific texters with 12-15 year olds sending an average of 193 texts per week, almost four times the UK average. This has doubled from 12 months ago, when 91 were sent. Girls in this age range send 35% more texts than boys - 221 compared to 165.
As noted earlier this year, texting has replaced talking as the most popular way to stay in touch. Nine out of ten of 16-24 year olds texts daily to communicate with friends and family, driven by young adults and teenagers.
However, it seems social networking may be biting into the volumes of texts sent. In the first half of 2012, there were two quarterly declines in the number of texts sent - from the peak of 39.7 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011 to 38.5 billion in the second quarter of this year.
James Thickett, Ofcom’s director of research, said: 'When texting was first conceived many saw it as nothing more than a niche service.'But texts have now surpassed traditional phone calls and meeting face to face as the most frequent way of keeping in touch for UK adults, revolutionising the way we socialise, work and network.
'For the first time in the history of mobile phones, SMS volumes are showing signs of decline. However the availability of a wider range of communications tools like instant messaging and social networking sites, mean that people might be sending fewer SMS messages, but they are ‘texting’ more than ever before.'
The first text message was sent in 1992, when Sema Group's Neil Papworth texted 'Merry Christmas' to Vodafone's Richard Jarvis, using a PC to send the text to Jarvis' Orbitel 901 handset.
Editor: Graeme Neill