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Parents: I hope you bought your teen an unlimited texting and data plan to go with that new cell phone, otherwise you’re in for a scary surprise come bill time.

The average teen now sends and receives seven messages, of the SMS or MMS variety, for every hour that she is awake. That’s a total of 3,417 messages a month, according to new data from analytics firm Nielsen.

And it is mostly girls, as the females are the worst text offenders: The young ladies are now sending and receiving 3,952 messages per month. Compare that to the boys, who exchange just 2,815 messages per month.

Nielsen collected mobile data during the third quarter of 2011 from the monthly cell phone bills of more than 65,000 folks who agreed to participate in its study.

Ready for a panic attack? Nielsen also found that data usage is up 256 percent from last year with the average 13- to 17-year-old teen now consuming 320 MB of data per month. Should the trend continue — and we think it will — teens will easily get up to 1 GB of data usage a month by next year. Alas, gone are the days of getting your kids the cheapest plan available to cut mobile costs.

The cell phone’s primary purpose (i.e. to make calls), according to the data, is quickly becoming lost on teens. Voice usage dropped from 685 to 572 minutes in one year. This is a no-brainer. Ever watch a teen use a phone? The phone part is almost always all but ignored.

Before you write this off with a “teens these days” comment, remember that these youngsters are merely following the give-me-more-mobile-data demands of their older (and wiser?) role models.

[Teens texting image via Shutterstock]

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