5 Ways Teenagers are the New ‘Mobile-First’ Generation


It’s always a useful task to put some perspective onto the rate of technological change over the last decade or two.

I have talked about Generation Y and the millenials in an earlier post, with the video of the toddler using an iPad with ease, but being dumbfounded by a magazine, illustrating perfectly how the children of the internet age are true digital natives.

What’s really interesting to look into is the way the new ‘totally mobile’ generation are using the internet, social media and connectivity in different ways to the rest of us.

Just this month the Pew Research Centre released a new study into smartphone adoption among American teens. One of the key findings was how a quarter of teenagers from the study are now ‘mobile-mostly’ internet users, with their smartphone the primary way of going online versus a desktop PC or laptop.

The survey looked at technology use among 802 12-17 year olds and their parents. Here are five key findings from the study.

  1. 78% of all teens now have a mobile phone (up from just 45% in 2004).
  2. 37% of all teens have smartphones (up from just 23% in 2011).
  3. 23% of teens have a tablet computer, a level comparable to the general adult population.
  4. 95% of teens use the internet.
  5. 74% teens ages 12-17 say they access the internet on mobile phones, tablets, and other mobile devices at least occasionally.

The statistics also reveal how the ‘totally mobile’ generation use their devices to create content (photos and video) and share more widely across social media. It’s also worth noting how little teens use voice relative to text and internet services to communicate with each other. Here’s the full breakdown from Pew of what teens use their mobiles for.

  • 83% take pictures.
  • 64% share pictures with others.
  • 60% play music.
  • 46% play games.
  • 32% swap videos.
  • 31% exchange instant messages.
  • 23% access social networks.
  • 21% use email.
  • 11% purchase things.

These figures are based on studies of US teenagers but many of these trends will be similar to teens in Western Europe and other developed parts of the world. As Mary Madden, senior research for the Pew Research Centre’s Internet Project concludes: “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.”

The challenge for the future is to ensure that users are fully educated about how to run their mobile lives safely and responsibly, and that there are the necessary measures in place to ensure safety without shackling creativity and opportunity.

I’ll leave you with some interesting food for thought for future discussion. These statistics only cover the US but last year one in five of the world’s mobile phone owning youth lived in India.

I’d love to hear any other statistics or anecdotes about the evolution of this ‘totally mobile’ generation and the future impact.

Photo credit wrangler Shutterstock

source: Linkedin

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