The average US teenager sent 3,339 texts per month in the second quarter of 2010, according to Nielsen.

The market research firm reports that texts, also known as SMS (Short Message Service), are the main reason for teens to own a mobile phone. On average, six messages are sent per teenage waking hour.

Teens are also using much more data on their phones: the figure of 62MB per month was up from 14MB a year earlier. However, mobile users in the 13-to-17 age group are talking less, now averaging 646 minutes per month on mobiles, down 14 percent from last year. The only group of consumers that talked less than teenagers was adults over 55, Nielsen said in a blog.

Texting is easier and faster than making a voice call, as well as more fun, teens told Nielsen.

Even teens' mobile data use seems an extension of the texting experience: The most common data service teens reported using in the last 30 days was MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) or picture messaging, which 62 percent said they had used. That was up from 55 percent a year earlier. Mobile internet use came in second, with 49 percent using it. Only 40 percent had reported mobile internet use a year earlier. Far more teens - 38 percent, up from 26 percent - now report downloading applications, too.

Among teens, the mobile web has now outpaced earlier mobile data offerings, including pre-installed games, ringtone downloads and instant messaging, Nielsen said.

Texting was the biggest reason to own a mobile phone for 43 percent of teens surveyed, up from 42 percent a year earlier. Safety was the second most important reason for a phone, cited by 35 percent of teens, edging out 'keeping in touch with friends', with 34 percent.

But while teen females are leading the texting trend, receiving an average of 4,050 messages per month compared with 2,539 for males, boys are using more data. The average male teen in the US consumed 75MB of mobile data per month in the second quarter, up from just 17MB a year earlier. The average teen girl used 53MB, up from 11MB.

Nielsen said its findings came from analysing the cell phone bills of more than 60,000 mobile subscribers and survey data from more than 3,000 teens.

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