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US teen clocks up 14,528 text messages

Dad left 'speechless' by one-month marathon

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Greg Hardesty of the Orange County Register has described himself as "speechless" after his 13-year-old daughter "racked up 14,528 text messages in one month", as the shaken dad himself put it last week.

Hardesty, 45, explains that offspring Reina achieved the impressive SMS tally between 27 November and 26 December. Her 22-year-old sister Hana managed a "comparatively modest" total of 7,101 messages, while sibling Marina, 24, trailed with just 700.

While the paper bill for all three phones dispatched to the girls' mother stretched to just 23 pages, the online PDF version extended to 440 pages. Luckily, all three are signed up for unlimited texts, otherwise Reina alone would be looking at a bill of $2,905.60 - a "lot of chores", Hardesty notes.

Hardesty called AT&T Mobility to see if it kept records of outstanding texting efforts. The company's Katie Keating said no, and while "trying not to laugh", described Reina's marathon total as "a bit high".

She added: "Texting is becoming more and more popular, and growing at a spectacular rate. Text-messaging is now hard-wired into our culture. It's in our DNA - particular among young people."

Keating explained that - according to a 2008 Nielsen study - teenagers between 13-17 "text more than any other demographic group", clocking up an average of 1,742 SMSes a month. The study of 50,000 mobile users showed than on average, "each user sends 357 texts a month versus 204 voice calls a month".

During a paternal grilling, Reina admitted 14,528 text messages could be described as "excessive", but defended: "But it's not all mine. I get a lot of annoying forwards and multimedia messages that I just delete because they're stupid, and the ones I receive are counted."

The AT&T bill confirmed that both incoming and outgoing messages counted towards the total, but Hardesty asked: "Really, though. Is that any consolation?"

Hardesty may find consolation in a possible inherited genetic predisposition for SMS, since he himself admits to sending 900 messages a month, or 700 more than the average for his age. Nonetheless, despite his own messaging profligacy, he and Reina's mother have now reportedly banned their daughter from texting after dinner - surely a fate worse than death for a teen whose need to text is embedded in her DNA. ®

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