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Generation Text: Teens and Texting

Where the Boys Are

When it comes to texting, the battle of the sexes is alive and well.

Teens text in strikingly divergent ways. Girls send significantly more daily messages than boys, 80 versus 30, according to Pew Research—and are nearly 20% more likely to send a text just to say hello or chat. In terms of subject matter, both boys and girls rely on texting for functional purposes, like making plans or checking on homework. Beyond that, girls anecdotally report avidly back-and-forthing about their social relationships ("Are you serious? I had no idea she was mad at me!"), while for boys, external, third-party topics, such as sporting events ("omg total blown call, should be Chargers ball") tend to dominate. The differences even extend to punctuation. Scott Campbell, assistant professor of new media at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, claims he's seen significant stylistic differences in form, with boys tending not to use punctuation, whereas girls have evolved an extremely subtle emotional grammar. For instance, according to Campbell, if a girl puts a period at the end of a text message, then it comes across as if she's mad. Rest assured that the dot at the end of this sentence conveys no anger whatsoever.