6 Times When a Text Message Is Better than a Phone Call

Forgo phone conversations and send a text message instead, when you find yourself in these six common situations.

After a long day of work, you’re preparing to relax during the long bus ride home. You settle in your seat, the bus’s hum and vibration pleasingly soporific, when suddenly a woman two rows back calls her friend to loudly gab about her relationship woes. Your peaceful ride has just hit a pothole.

Welcome to the ongoing debate between texting vs. talking. In this case, texting was the better option. Despite the many modes of communication at our disposal—phone calls, video chats and emails—text messaging is a popular (and sometimes preferred) way to converse. And with new smartphone technology such as Swype for touch screens, texting is only getting easier.

According to a September 2011 survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 83 percent of American adults own a cell phone and about three quarters of them receive text messages. Out of the latter group, more than 30 percent prefer to be contacted by text message. Young adults aged 18 to 24 double the average texting total per day, with about 110 texts.

So when is it the right time to eschew a phone call in favor of a text? Consider these six situations:

When you need to be brief

Many messages don’t require a conversation. Maybe you simply want to tell your friend that you already grabbed seats in the movie theater or that you’re running a few minutes late to dinner. Quick notes like these take less time and effort to send by text than to relay in a phone conversation.

When you’re in a public or quiet place

Trust us: You don’t want to be the obnoxious chatter bug in the quiet waiting room. In hushed settings like this, it’s more respectful to carry on with the calm tone of the room by sending a text message.

(And of course there are some places—a classroom or a movie theater, for instance—where you ought not take part in mobile communication of any kind, even texting. Others around you are likely concentrating on the task at hand, and distracting them with your screen’s light or even the soft tapping of your phone’s keyboard is less-than-polite cell etiquette.)

When you’re on different schedules

You’re just dozing off after a busy day when your phone rings: It’s your mother calling to say she just watched a spectacular episode of The X Factor™. She could have avoided this interruption with a simple text message.

One of the beauties of texting is that receivers don’t need to be on hand when you send a text. Whether your friend or family member works different hours than you or lives in a different time zone, texting makes it easy to relay a casual message.

When the details need to be saved

Phone numbers, addresses, show times and recipe ingredients—these are all straightforward, brief messages that are easier to read and save than to remember from a phone conversation. Recipients can also save these “memos” for future reference.

When it’s better read than said

Even potentially awkward messages can benefit from being conveyed in text form. Say you’re following up on a date and too nervous to tell the person what a great time you had—don’t let it go unnoticed. Text it instead. But ending a long-term relationship? Don’t even think about texting.

When someone has texted you first

If someone texts you, text them back. Sending a text message often is a sign that texting is that person’s preferred method of communication.

Maybe your wife is busy with the kids, your friend is in line at the deli or your son is on the train ride home; it may be difficult or uncomfortable to talk on the phone. Move to a phone conversation only if the back-and-forth texting lasts for a while.

This article was written by an author contracted by Verizon’s Insider's Guide to provide helpful information on wireless technology. The thoughts, opinions and suggestions of the author may not necessarily reflect those of Verizon Wireless.

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