The hidden cost of the text message

Chronicle Staff

Although it has been widely used in Europe since 1995, text messaging has only been possible in the United States since 2002. The technology used by the major carriers allows users who subscribe to send short messages to nearly anyone with a cell phone.
According to a 2004 study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 38 percent of teens have sent a text message using a mobile phone.

“For them, it’s a lot better than talking,” Henry Matta, a Radio Shack salesmen said. “Right now, I could be using it.”

“I really think that silent factor and ease of use is key,” Terri Greenbaum, (Kody ’11) said. “They can be anywhere—in the car, in their room—and they can text so fast that they can communicate very quickly.”

Many parents tolerate their children’s desire to use text messages, even if their child goes ever the text messege limit.

“I think that really my mom understands that if she took my cell phone away, it would be harder for her,” Hailey Orr ’07 said. “As much as they can ask their kids to be respectful and try not to go over the limit, we’re kids, and it’s going to happen.”

Part of the reason why teenagers often exceed their text messaging limit is that, having grown accustomed to online instant messaging services that charge nothing for all-day, unlimited use, they have difficulty adapting to mobile carriers’ pay-per-message format.
Because they are so tiny and thus easily transmitted across the wireless network, the widespread belief that they yield a huge profit for phone companies sometimes makes the extra charge even harder to bear for parents focused on the bottom line.

— Additional reporting by Adam Gold