Report: Half of Teens Have Used a Mobile Phone to Access the Internet

Roughly one in four teens (23%) has a smartphone according to a new report from the Pew Internet Project. An equivalent number of teens have no phone at all. Therefore the actual number of smartphone teens is higher if considered only in the context of all mobile users. Rougly 54% of Pew survey respondents report having a conventional mobile phone or not knowing the type of their phone. 

The survey was conducted in mid-2011, so some numbers might be different today.

Interestingly, unlike adults, "There are no differences in ownership of smartphones versus regular cell phones by race, ethnicity, or income." Older teens are more likely to have phones and smartphones in particular, with 31% of those aged 14-17 saying they owned smartphones.

The volume of texting for teens has gone up, but voice calling has declined. "[V]oice calling with friends on cell phones has declined in the past two years, from 38% of teens calling friends daily on cells in 2009 to 26% two years later," the report explained. This is apparently true for landline communication as well. One question to consider is: will this no-calling behavior carry over into the lives of these teens as they become adults?

Here are some additional findings from the survey: 

  • The median number of texts sent on a typical day by teens 12-17 rose from 50 in 2009 to 60 in 2011.
  • Older girls remain the most enthusiastic texters, with a median of 100 texts a day in 2011, compared with 50 for boys the same age.
  • 63% of all teens say they exchange text messages every day with people in their lives. This far surpasses the frequency with which they pick other forms of daily communication, including phone calling by cell phone (39% do that with others every day), face-to-face socializing outside of school (35%), social network site messaging (29%), instant messaging (22%), talking on landlines (19%) and emailing (6%).

Another interesting finding: "29% of all teens exchange messages daily through social network sites," which is more than the 19% who talk on landlines daily.

The chart above indicates the methods that teens use to get online. Roughly half (49%) had used a "cell phone" to access the Internet within the past month, while 16% had used a tablet.