American Life Project show that those ages 12-17 are closing the gap in cell phone ownership. The Project is currently conducting a survey of teens and their parents and will be releasing the new figures in early 2010. We went back to our databanks in light of teenagers looks intriguing findings about adult mobile phone use in two of our recent reports,1 and to help lay the ground work for our current project on youth and mobile phones.
The computer ownership number has been stable since 2006, but it is somewhat complicated because it is sometimes hard for teens and their parents to sort out who owns what technology in a household. Among teens, age is the most important variable in mobile phone ownership. Older teens are much more likely to own phones than younger teens, and the largest increase occurs at age 14, right at the transition between middle and high school. Beyond age, there are few differences in mobile phone ownership by other personal characteristics. Girls and boys are equally likely to own a phone and there are no differences by race or ethnicity in phone ownership. How are teens using phones, mobile or otherwise?
For teens as a whole, landline phones remain the most widespread method of communication with friends. Perhaps more illuminating with regard to what teens really enjoy are the Project’s findings on daily telephone related activities, and how these stack up against other types of communication. For daily activities, cell phone-based communication is dominant, with nearly 2 in 5 teens sending text messages every day. Teens still speak and interact in person, too. The three other primarily text-based forms of communication stand at the bottom of the list of daily communication activities. We first asked the question back in 2004 and have not repeated it since. In 2004, we found that a tiny number of teens use their mobile devices to use the internet.