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Study: States with the Most Unopened Messages

Unread emails on mail app

Americans have the ability to effortlessly connect with anyone they’d like at the touch of a button. However, this accessibility is a double-edged sword since the constant stream of text messages and emails can be both convenient and overwhelming.

If you’ve ever felt stressed by the constant flow of text messages and emails, you’re not alone. With so many messages frequently coming in, many people often find themselves drowning in digital noise. To stay afloat, Americans sometimes leave messages unopened until they’re ready to view or delete them.

At Secure Data Recovery, we were curious to know which states’ residents have the most unopened messages and who those messages are typically from. To find out, we surveyed 2,024 Americans about their inboxes. Read on to find out in which states people leave their messages unread the most.

Key Takeaways

  • People in California, Kentucky, and West Virginia have the most unread texts.
  • People in Alabama, Massachusetts, and Maryland have the most unread emails.
  • Notification bubbles on apps makes 48% feel overwhelmed.
  • Typically, 43% delay their response after they open a message.

The States with the Most Unread Texts

We’ve all done it — seen a text message come through and thought, “I’ll reply in a second.” But then seconds pass, and all of sudden, it’s been sitting unread for hours. In fact, over half of Americans admit to letting messages pile up. In some cases, 65% have lied and said they “forgot to respond” to a text, but really they just didn't feel like responding.

We get it, with such busy lives and different things fighting for your attention, it takes genuine effort to respond to every message in a timely manner. Because responding to messages takes precious time, 61% say they spend 11+ minutes per day responding to texts. With such a time commitment, it’s no wonder 43% typically delay their response after they open a message. Some even go so far as to delay opening a message for days, such as 43% who have waited 1+ days to open a text.

To dive deeper into the phenomenon of unread text messages, we set out to find the states where people leave their texts in perpetual limbo most frequently. We did this by analyzing the highest average number of unread texts a day in every state.

The results revealed that people in California, Kentucky, and West Virginia leave unread texts in their inbox the most. People in these states typically have around 5 texts sitting unopened at the end of the day. On the other end, people in Maine, Arizona, and Alabama are the best at opening their text messages, leaving only around 2 unopened a day.

states with the most and least unread text messages

The States with the Most Unread Emails

Along with text messages, Americans are constantly battling with the task of opening emails. Signing up for all of those email lists to receive discounts sounded like a great idea at the time, but now your phone pings alerting a new message at a frequency you can’t keep up with. That, combined with every other notification your phone sends your way, can make it hard to feel on top of things. In fact, 48% feel overwhelmed by notification bubbles on apps.

In general, people spend less time responding to emails than texts with 65% saying they spend less than 10 minutes a day replying to personal emails. Although emails can be delivered at the same speed as texts, they can often be viewed as more formal and less urgent. It may be why 63% have waited a week or more to open an email.

Opening the emails in their primary inbox is more of a priority for some Americans than others. Our survey revealed that people in Alabama, Massachusetts, and Maryland end the day with the most unread emails out of any other Americans. People in these states leave around 12 to 13 emails unread in their inboxes to wake up to.

People in Washington, New York, and Virginia are more diligent in opening their emails. Residents in these states only leave around 5 to 6 unread emails in their inboxes.

states with the most and least unread emails

How Unread Messages Can Impact Your Relationships

Whether you’re a quick responder to messages or you take your time attending to each unread note, the decision can have a significant impact on your relationships. In fact, 48% have had a relationship negatively impacted because of their slow response to messages. Of those, 43% had a friendship impacted, 31% had a romantic relationship impacted, and 25% had work relations impacted. This puts into perspective the power unread messages hold in our lives.

When it comes to the texts Americans leave unread the most, a lot of the time, they are from the same senders. Topping the list is friends, whether it’s a message to make plans, share juicy gossip, or a casual check-in, Americans hold off on opening messages from their friends most. The top three list continues with extended family and parents. The people most likely to have their messages opened are children, partners, and siblings.

how unread messages impact relationships

With such an emphasis on the importance of replying to texts in a timely manner, we set out to find out what timeframe Americans considered timely. According to our respondents, 56% say a reply to a non-urgent text should come within a day. Keep in mind these are the same respondents where nearly half admitted to waiting one or more days to open a text.

Whether you’re a great digital communicator or not, it can be hard to keep up with relationships that require a lot of attention and communication from you, also known as high-maintenance relationships. Americans consider someone a high-maintenance friend if that person sends them an average of about 4 messages a week. The states where people consider themselves to be high-maintenance friends most are California, Pennsylvania, and Florida.

If a high-maintenance friendship doesn’t work for you, luckily, there seems to be a greater chance of developing low-maintenance friendships, as 92% consider themselves to be a low-maintenance friend. The high percentage shows that many value simplicity in relationships, even when it comes to the fast-paced world of digital communication.

What to Do When Data Slips Through the Cracks

By dissecting the world of unread messages, it’s clear that digital communication isn’t always smooth sailing. If you ever find yourself in a situation due to accidental deletions, lost messages, or the occasional phone mishap, it’s important to know who to turn to for data recovery services.

Just like unread messages, valuable data can sometimes slip through the cracks. Beyond messages, if you’ve lost data, and need services like hard drive recovery, make us your first call. At Secure Data Recovery, we honor a no data, no recovery fee guarantee process.


From November 28, 2023, to December 3, 2023, we surveyed 2,024 Americans about their unread messages. Respondents ranged in age from 18 to 76 years old, and were 48% female, 50% male, and 2% nonbinary.

T.J. Burlee, Tech Enthusiast
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T.J. Burlee is a content writer for Secure Data Recovery Services. He specializes in various topics in the data industry, including data recovery technology, storage devices, and digital forensics. Throughout his career, he has covered complex concepts and provided accessible solutions for users. Before joining Secure Data, he worked as a freelance technical writer.

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