Three quarters of US teens accessing mobile web

15/03/2013

Nearly three-quarters of teenagers say they access the Internet on cell phones, tablets, and other mobile devices at least occasionally, according to new research.

The findings, from the Pew Research Center, explored technology use among 802 youth ages 12-17 and their parents.

Smartphone adoption among American teenagers has increased substantially and mobile access to the Internet is pervasive, with a quarter of teens described as “cell-mostly” Internet users—those who mostly surf the Web using their phone and not using some other device such as a desktop or laptop computer.

The survey revealed more than three-quarters (78 percent) of teens now have a cell phone, and almost half (47 percent) of them own smartphones. That translates into 37 percent of all teens that have smartphones, up from just 23 percent in 2011. Seven in ten (71 percent) teens with home computer access say the laptop or desktop they use most often is one they share with other family members, according to the survey.

"The nature of teens’ internet use has transformed dramatically — from stationary connections tied to shared desktops in the home to always-on connections that move with them throughout the day," senior researcher for the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project and co-author of the report Mary Madden said in a statement. "In many ways, teens represent the leading edge of mobile connectivity, and the patterns of their technology use often signal future changes in the adult population."

Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of teens have a tablet computer, a level comparable to the general adult population, while nearly all (95 percent) of teens use the Internet, and 93 percent of teens have a computer or have access to one at home.

"In overall Internet use, youth ages 12-17 who are living in lower-income and lower-education households are still somewhat less likely to use the internet in any capacity — mobile or wired," the report noted. "However, those who fall into lower socioeconomic groups are just as likely and in some cases more likely than those living in higher income and more highly educated households to use their cell phone as a primary point of access."

About three in four (74 percent) teens ages 12-17 say they access the Internet on cell phones, tablets, and other mobile devices at least occasionally. The survey also found teens are far more likely than adults to be cell-mostly Internet users — just 15 percent of adults describe themselves as cell-mostly, compared with one quarter of teens. Among teen smartphone owners, that percentage doubles to half.

Older girls are especially likely to be cell-mostly internet users, with 34 percent of teen girls ages 14-17 saying they mostly go online using their cell phone, compared with 24 percent of teen boys ages 14-17—a notable disparity since boys and girls are equally likely to be smartphone owners.

Among older teen girls who are smartphone owners, 55 percent say they use the Internet mostly from their phone.

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