Studies done by researchers at the Pew Institute found that texting is currently the most popular method of communication among teens aged 13-17, with the average teen sending and receiving around 30 messages per day. About 33% of teens with smartphones are using services like WhatsApp and Kik to send these messages to their friends.
Why use an app when texting is built into the phone? The answer is two-fold: It’s low-cost and has fun bonus features.
- Whatsapp- Costs only $1 per year for unlimited texts, multimedia and international messaging. Traditional text message plans often have costly limits on these types of features.
- Kik- Unlike WhatsApp and traditional texting, Kik allows you to send messages to friends without having to insert a phone number. You sign up with an email and can search and add friends using their unique Kik username or Kik code. This free app also allows users to send unlimited text, multimedia and international messages.
- Snapchat- Sending photos and videos used to be costly for mobile users in terms of both additional messaging fees and storage space on a device. Snapchat allows users to send short videos and photos to friends without storing the media onto the recipient’s phone.. Snapchat also has a chat feature which allows messages to be sent between friends.
Video chat has come to replace the chat rooms that were so popular in the 90's. Different services offer different types of video chats.
- Skype: Allows users to add friends by searching their real or skype name. Allows for individual video chats and messaging.
- YouNow: This livestreaming site allows users to post live videos of themselves singing, playing an instrument, answering questions, etc. Users can search the tags in the videos to find a stream that may interest them. For example search #Singing and see all the livestreams of people who are singing. Leave comments on the side of the stream, earn followers, likes and find your stream trending.
- Periscope: In combination with Twitter, Periscope is another live streaming app that users can use to share what they are doing in real time to their Twitter feed. These videos are stored so that you or your followers may view them again even when you are not live broadcasting.
- Live on Facebook: With the popularity of live streaming video growing, Facebook has added “Live” features to its service. Using the same account that users would access to post comments or photos, they can now use their mobile device to live stream video to their friends or followers.
With a heavy focus on rapid communication via instantaneous text messages, email use among teens has been on the decline for a number of years. Many teens have an email address, which is necessary to sign up for various social media platforms, websites like Facebook or Twitter and to register with most apps. Even though email services have evolved to better filter spam, limit messages from unknown senders and allow you to filter messages based on priority, type etc., this form of communication among teens is certainly decreasing.
 Lenhart, Amanda, Pew Research Center, April 2015, “Teen, Social Media and Technology Overview 2015”
 2012 U.S. Digital Future in Focus, February 2012.