A third of U.S. teenagers with cell phones send more than 100 texts a day as texting has exploded to become the most popular means of communication for young people, according to new research. The study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, which offers a glimpse into teen culture and communication, found that texting has risen dramatically even since 2008, eclipsing cell phone calls, instant messaging, social networks – and talking face-to-face. The Pew Research Center said that three-fourths of young people between the ages of 12 and 17 now own cell phones and of those that do, girls typically send or receive 80 text messages per day and boys, 30 per day. “Texting is now the central hub of communication in the lives of teens today, and it has really skyrocketed in the last 18 months,” Pew researcher Amanda Lenhart said, attributing the rise in part to payment plans that allow unlimited texting. The study’s authors also say that, unlike phone calls, text messaging can be quietly carried out under the noses of parents, teachers or other authority figures and, unlike computers, it can be done almost anywhere. Text messaging has become so much a part of teenagers’ lives that 87 percent of those who text said that they sleep with, or next to, their phone.