NEW YORK – The nation's newest texting champion has a message for parents across the land — although they might not want to hear it.
"Let your kid text during dinner! Let your kid text during school! It pays off," 15-year-old Kate Moore said Tuesday after winning the LG U.S. National Texting Championship.
After all, she said: "Your kid could win money and publicity and a phone."
For the Des Moines, Iowa, teenager, her 14,000 texts-per-month habit reaped its own rewards, landing her the competition prize of $50,000 just eight months after she got her first cell phone.
Moore, with a speedy and accurate performance, beat out 20 other finalists from around the country over two days of challenges such as texting blindfolded and texting while maneuvering through a moving obstacle course.
In the final showdown, she outtexted 14-year-old Morgan Dynda, of Savannah, Ga. Both girls had to text three lengthy phrases without making any mistakes on the required abbreviations, capitalization or punctuation. Moore squeaked through by a few seconds on the tiebreaking text, getting the best two out of three. As she anxiously waited for confirmation of her win, tears streamed down her face.
The teen dismisses the idea that she focuses too much on virtual communications, saying that while she has sometimes had her phone taken away from her in school, she keeps good grades, performs in school plays and socializes with friends — in person — on the weekends.
In between, she finds time to send about 400 to 470 texts a day. Among her uses of the text messages? Studying for exams with friends, which she says is better done by text because she can look back at the messages to review.
The finalists, all 22 or younger, were among 250,000 people who tried to get spots in the competition. Some won their spots at the Manhattan finals by being the fastest people to text responses to televised ads.
It's the third year for the texting competition, sponsored by LG Electronics Inc.'s mobile-phones division. But it's the first time that it was held at a flashy sound stage with an illuminated platform and surrounded by TV cameras. LG, based in Seoul, South Korea, is considering using the footage in a televised special of some kind.
Twenty-year-old Jackie Boyd, who came in fifth in the competition, said she usually prefers text messages to phone calls because they get through faster and they're more private — leaving her unworried about other people listening in.
"You can get more of what you really truly want to say" across with texting, said the Syracuse University psychology major. "Especially if it's an argument, you don't have to worry about saying the wrong thing.
"And if you don't want to respond, you can always say, 'Oh, I didn't get your text.'"