Smartphone use to access the Internet by US teens rises sharply

Everyone, pretend to be surprised.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

According to the latest study by Pew, more and more American teenagers are accessing the web from their mobile gadgets.

The research center's latest report suggests what we already know: teenagers are becoming more attached to their smartphones and tablets as lifelines to access Internet services ranging from email to checking their social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter, whether it be for rapid access or to keep their activities away from the prying eyes of family members. 

Having easy, instant access to information and communication is certainly addictive. It brings to mind an image I once saw of a restaurant table with the occupant's phones all stacked together, and the first who "broke" and checked their phone was required to pay the bill. The sight of today's teenagers glued to their screens and requiring several summons before responding to anything in the physical world is commonplace, and it's no wonder.

However, we may have originally believed that texts were the main culprit of such trends in behaviour, but, just as many adults I know who are continually checking their email, it seems online services have now captured the next generation's interest.

According to the study, based on surveys conducted by phone with 802 teens ages 12-17 and their parents, instead of using desktops to get online, most now rely on their mobile phones. 78 percent of teenagers now own a cell, and almost half of these models — 47 percent — are smartphones. Translated, this means that roughly 37 percent of all teenagers own a smartphone such as the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, and this rate has rocketed from 23 percent in 2011.

In addition, 23 percent of teenagers said they own a tablet, which is the equivalent of tablet ownership previously recorded in the adult population.

Whereas 93 percent of American teenagers said they have access to the Internet via a computer or gadget at home, seven in ten say that if they are relying on a computer, this has to be shared with other family members — and so a mobile gadget is often the easier option, which gives them more time online and keeps things private.

Unsurprisingly, teenage girls were more likely than boys to be "cell-mostly" users of online services. In total, 74 percent of teenage girls surveyed said they occasionally use their mobile devices to access the web, whether it be through a smartphone or tablet.

Mary Madden, Senior Researcher for the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project commented:

"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. 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."

(Image Source: Andrew Malone/Flickr)

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