Most digital cell phones have the ability to send and receive short text messages. This is usually called short message service (SMS) or text paging.
With SMS, you enter a message using your cell phone’s keypad. You’re generally limited to very short messages — 160 characters, tops — but that’s not usually a problem because it’s pretty time-consuming to “type” on a keypad anyway!
Once you’ve finished your message, you can send to to anyone else’s cell phone by entering their phone number. Off the message goes, and in a few seconds to a few minutes, your friend’s phone will beep and the message will appear on their screen.
You might be wondering why anyone would bother typing out messages laboriously on their phone’s keypad when they could just pick up the phone and talk. There are lots of reasons!
- Text messages are less intrusive. You can send a note to your friend without distracting them from whatever they’re doing at that moment.
- Text messages are quieter. If your friend has put their phone on “vibrate” then they’ll be able to receive and respond to your message in complete silence.
- You can send one SMS to several people at a time. This is a good way to tell a group of friends to meet you at a certain place, or that something is happening at that moment.
- SMS is fun! It’s a bit like passing notes in class. Getting text messages is another way to communicate, and it can be lots of fun.