I just spent a couple of weeks with a family in the Philippines. There were two teenagers – a sixteen year old and a fourteen year old. The sixteen year old is in college (common age to start college in the Philippines) and lives away from home. The fourteen year old is in a technical high school near Manila. Both are girls. The fourteen year old seldom uses her phone while the sixteen year old becomes visibly agitated if she's not holding her phone or can't get to her messages constantly. The sixteen year old told me she sent more than 200 messages per day. I was amazed and wondered how it could be possible … until I spent a couple of days with her. I don't have a teenager at home so this was novel experience for me.
First, she can tap in messages quite quickly. She uses a Nokia phone. She had another (not to be named brand) for a while, but gave it up because she couldn't tap out letters fast enough. She texts at the dinner table, while in the car, while talking to you, while walking, etc. – you get the idea. I was using a computer in a room where she was sleeping one morning – she even txt'ed in her sleep. She claimed that she sleeps with her cell phone on her pillow/in bed next to her because she uses it as an alarm. I didn't hear an alarm though. Several times though, I did observe her wake up, send a text message, and then rollover and go back to sleep. I couldn't believe it.
Teenager with Phone on Pillow
Teenager – Close-up
SMS messages are inexpensive in the Philippines, but not cheap. It seemed to be 50 cents or so for unlimited text messaging for 24 hours. There were also packages for multiple days. It can be less expensive here. Many hourly workers earn as little as US$5/day – I still saw them with cell phones though perhaps not using as many text messages as these teenagers. I was told that rates were going up at the end of January, but that didn't worry this teenager. She said the telecom companies make that announcement each year. They make the change, but quickly revert back to the lower prices.