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Texting or IMing?

Some networks have made changes to prevent them from being utilized by such multi-network IM clients. For example, Trillian had to release several revisions and patches to allow its users to access the MSN, AOL, and Yahoo! networks, after changes were made to these networks. The major IM providers typically cite the need for formal agreements as well as security concerns as reasons for making these changes.

The use of proprietary protocols has meant that many instant messaging networks have been incompatible and people have been unable to reach friends on other networks, which has pushed people toward texting, however costly. This infighting among networks has cost the instant messaging format dearly and limited its adoption.

October 2008, Sprint Nextel was the first to introduce the new price of 20 cents per text message. AT&T and Verizon Wireless soon followed with their price hikes going into effect this spring. And this week Engadget reported that T-Mobile USA will match the other big three wireless operators in jacking up SMS texting rates to 20 cents per message.

The massive price markup on texting and the growing popularity of texting have resulted in huge profits for mobile operators. One can easily assume that the mark-up on a text message is several thousands times what it actually costs carriers to transmit this little bit of data.

Mobile Instant Messaging (MIM) is the technology that allows Instant Messaging services to be accessed from a portable device, ranging from standard mobile phones, to smartphones (e.g. devices using operating systems such as iOS, Blackberry OS, Symbian OS, Android OS, Windows Mobile, et al). It is done two ways:

1. Embedded Clients - tailored IM client for every specific device.

Clientless Platform – a browser-based application that does not require downloading any software to the handset, and which enables all users and all devices from any network to connect to their Internet IM service—ideally. In practice, browser capabilities can pose problems.

2. In a Web Browser

Gmail has instant messaging capacity in the webpage itself, which can be used in a web browser without the need to download and install the IM client. Later Yahoo and Hotmail also implemented it. eBuddy and Meebo websites offers instant messaging of different IM services. Generally, such services are limited to text chat, although Gmail has voice and video capabilities. As of August 2010, Gmail allows the calling of regular phones from their web-based IM client.

Instant Messaging may be done in a Friend-to-friend network, in which each node connects to the friends on the friends list. This allows for communication with friends of friends and for the building of chatrooms for instant messages with all friends on that network.

NEW YORK, NY, February 22, 2010—For the first time in the digital age, more teens are choosing texting over instant messaging as their preferred method of communication, according to the latest TeenMark study from Mediamark Research & Intelligence (MRI).

Some 57% of teenagers report they text messaged on their cell phones in the last 30 days, compared to 42% who instant messaged on a computer in the same time frame, according to the TeenMark study.

Teen Texting vs. Instant Messaging Percentage of Teens Who Used Either Method In the Past 30 Days.
 2007200820092009 vs. 2007
Texting38%46%57% +50%
IM on computer48%46%42% -13%

With affordable unlimited texting plans available from most cell phone carriers, it’s easier than ever for teenagers to use their thumbs to communicate. The number of teens who text has increased 50% since 2007, vs. a 13% decline in the number of teens using instant messaging. Texting is now the #1 feature teens use on mobile cell phones, aside from making phone calls. Not only are more teens texting, there is ample evidence that texting holds an important place in teens’ lives. For instance, 78% of teens who text agree that “text messaging is an important part of my daily life.” And, 75% of texting teens report they text while watching TV. The most common reason teens text is to communicate with friends and family. However, 1 in 5 texting teens also use texting to vote in contests, and 1 in 7 texting teens report they looked at an advertisement sent with a text message.

Cell phones and the networks they depend on are starting to support video chat, but the inconsistent reception and low quality of video will hinder this for the immediate future.

While texting and mobile chat are on the rise, the software instant messaging suites that have been around for the past 15 years should see plenty of use for the foreseeable future. Their increased capabilities and the fact that we are dependent on them for much of our business and personal interactions solidifies their place on our computers as fun, interactive and even educational tools to be used by people of dramatically different backgrounds and lifestyles.

Text messaging has overtaken not just e-mail but also instant messaging in popularity. Ninety-seven percent of students use text messages as their main form of communication, as opposed to 30 percent for e-mail and 25 percent for instant messaging.

The business model of texting is regressive, but there is an interesting lesson here. URLs matter. Texting won over IMing, despite it’s horrific pricing business model, because IM users had to figure out whether friends were on AIM or GChat or MSN, whether the person was by the computer or the phone, and whether their phone has the right software to communicate. On the other hand, texting has no compatibility issues. Everyone has a Uniform Resource Locator assigned to their device, and that locator is reachable from any other phone using any other service through a standard protocol. One does not need the T-Mobile texting app to text his friends on T-Mobile.

We all know there is text messaging on mobile phones. Did you realize that you can also IM on your mobile phone? It is much cheaper (except on A&T) than text messaging and faster. With IM you can talk in close to real time and can have an easy flowing conversation. To do the same with texting would be very expensive and would be very start-stop. Ever tried to have a conversation with text messages? It takes forever.

It's no surprise that texting would be used more than IMing: with texting, you dont have to worry about someone being on and available in order to contact them immediately. People are always out on the go and don't have the time to sit at a computer. And as for IMing on the phone, yes, people do use that but sending a text is quicker because you dont have to sign into an account and wait to see if someone is online. Just send a quick message to the phone itself.

On the positive side, I suppose all this texting and IMing does make kids write more, expressing their thoughts. However, it seems kids are connected about 99% of their waking hours. What ever happened to just being alone to think? To pray? To dream? To just be?

Since the early 1980s, young people have been grouped together—whether it is in sports teams or school projects, they have not been given much opportunity to just be by themselves. You cannot walk on a college campus without seeing most of the kids on their cell phones, blackberries, and now iphones, texting, chatting and IMing. Seldom do you spot a student alone, under a tree, just by himself or herself, just being and thinking about life, without a cell phone or other modern electronic gizmo.

You may be thinking that just getting alone by yourself, without a cell phone, blackberry, Ipod, and i-phone, with no one else by your side, can be a scary thing. It forces you to look at your life—to think. But we all need to do it—to have more alone time.

Kids—and adults—need to break away and spend quality alone time if we're to grow as human beings. It's only then we can healthy reconnect and share your strengths and weaknesses, our highs and lows with other human beings. In other words, both kids and adults need more of a balance of alone time and together time to be emotionally healthy people.

Let's look at the benefits of IMing:

According to parenting expert Dr. Ruth Peters, text messaging is a great option for parents and kids to stay in touch because:

In studies, 48% of the respondents said that they use the Internet to improve their relationships with friends, and 32% said that they use the Internet to make new friends (Lenhart, Rainie, & Lewis, 2001). On the one hand, this supports the optimistic perspective that online communication promotes social support and expanded social interaction (Cole & Robinson, 2002; Katz & Rice, 2002; Kavanaugh, et al., 2005; Kestnbaum, Robinson, Neustadtl, & Alvarez, 2002) rather than isolation and depression (Kraut, Patterson, & Lundmark, 1998; Nie, Hillygus, & Erbring, 2002). On the other hand, it may also support Ito and Daisuke's (2003) argument that adolescents are substituting poorer quality social relationships (weak ties) for better ones (strong ties).

These Social network (mostly Facebook) based relationships may provide essential social support and camaraderie for otherwise isolated youth, which are particularly vital during this stage of social development.

There was no significant difference in relational intensity between friendship networks and text messaging networks, between friendship networks and IM partner networks, or between IM partner networks and text messaging networks. This implies that there is no significant difference in intensity between any of the network types.

Checking Statuses

Pew (2005) found that 62% of teens have posted messages specifically stating what they are doing. This is very similar to the recent addition of status updates on social networks like Facebook and Myspace. Instant messaging and text messaging has created a generation that is used to informing their peers of their status, and having the ability to keep track of their friends.

People can send a message to the user that is away, and it is known that they will most likely not receive a response. While instant messaging comes very close to being a synchronous form of communication, away messages allow users to respond at their own will without regard for immediate feedback.


Sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photographs, primarily between mobile phones, and it is a growing trend among younger users. According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 1 in 5 teens have sent or posted nude or semi-nude pictures or video of themselves. And 48% of teens say they have received such messages. In many cases, what is intended as a two way communication is shared among friends and classmates. And 36% of teen girls and 39% of teen boys say it is common for nude or semi-nude photos to get shared with people other than the intended recipient. Sexting can not only lead to embarrassment and shame for the original sender, but can also lead to criminal charges with both the original sender and the mass distributor being charged with the distribution of child pornography.