Half of US Teens Do Most Online Activities Through Smartphones

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Photo by Andrew Rennie | FlickrA new Pew Internet & American Life Project survey found nearly half of America’s teens own smartphones, with nearly a quarter describing themselves as “cell-mostly” Internet users who do most of their online activities via their phones as opposed to using desktop or laptop computers.

The Pew Research Center’s Internet Project Senior Researcher Mary Madden said the nature of Internet use for young people has shifted away from “stationary connections” using shared family computers to “always-on connections” with personal mobile devices. “In many ways, teens represent the leading edge of mobile connectivity,” she said, “and the patterns of their technology use often signal future changes in the adult population.”

The findings stem from a phone survey of 800 parents and 800 teenagers conducted last summer. Most teens (95 percent) reported frequent Internet use, while 93 percent reported having computer access at home. Nearly four out of five teens now possess cell phones, the survey found, with the total number of teens owning smartphones increasing by 14 percent since 2011. A quarter of teens reported owning tablet devices, nearly identical to those for adult respondents.

Older female teens were most likely to do a majority of their online activity through cell phones; 34 percent of girls ages 14 to 17, compared to 24 percent of boys, reported being “cell-mostly” Internet users.

Researchers also note socioeconomics aren’t preventing young people from making the leap to primarily phone-based online activity.

“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,” the study said.

Photo by Andrew Rennie | Flickr