Cell Phone Usage in Teens

Teenagers are using mobile phones now more then ever before. The number of teens, aged 12 to 17, who own cell phones has risen from 45 percent in 2004 to 71 percent in 2008, according to a study by the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project. With nearly three out of four teenagers owning a mobile phone, it raises some questions about how these devices are being used.

  1. Mobile Phone Ownership in Teens

    • Age is the most significant variable when it comes to which teens own a mobile phone. Teens aged between 12 and 13 years have a little more than 50 percent chance of having a cell phone while teens aged between 16 and 17 years have an 85 percent change of owning a cell phone in 2008. Teen cell phone ownership is fairly even across race and sex, but household income and education are also significant factors with teens from families with higher education and income being almost 20 percent more likely to own a cell phone.

    Teens and Phone Calls

    • A 2009 survey from the Pew Internet and American Life project found that while text messaging had become the predominant method of communication between teens, phone calls still played an important role, especially in communication with parents. The study found that 38 percent of all teens make daily phone calls on their cell phone, compared with 30 percent who make daily calls on a land line phone. Age is again a contributing factor, with only 17 percent of 12-year-olds making daily cell phone calls, but 60 percent of 17-year-olds doing the same.

    Teens and Text Messages

    • In September 2009, 54 percent of teens reported using text messages daily, a 16 percent jump from data gathered 18 months earlier. The same Pew survey found that one in three teens reported sending over 100 text messages a day, or more then 3000 a month. Age and gender are the most important variables for determining text messaging use. Girls typically send around 80 texts a day, while boys only send around 30. Only 35 percent of 12-year-olds communicate with their friends through text messages, compared with 77 percent of 17-year-olds. Mobile phones have also become portals to social networking sites and instant messaging programs, giving teens another outlet for communication with friends; 25 percent of teens reported that they use their phone to visit social networking sites or to create instant messages.

    Mobile phones as more then just phones

    • A 2008 study by CITA and Harris Interactive found that over half of teens consider their cell phone as a new form of entertainment. The study also found that over half of teens consider their cell phone to be central to their social life. Teens consider cell phones second to only clothing in determining social status and popularity. Cell phones can also be used to access music, movies and pictures or as a portal to the Internet.

    Complications from mobile phone use

    • A 2008 study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that young people with excessive cell phone use had increased restlessness with more careless lifestyles. Teens with parents who limit their text messaging are less likely to report regretting a text they sent or sending a sexually suggestive or nude image by text. Cell phones can also be a disruption at school, with 58 percent of teens at schools that ban cell phones having sent a text message during class anyway.

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  • Photo Credit two teens with cell phone. image by Anna Chelnokova from Fotolia.com

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