April 2, 2013

A Quarter of Teens Mostly Access the Internet Using their Cell Phones

25%

One in four teens are “cell-mostly” internet users — far more than adults.

While many teens have a variety of internet-connected devices in their lives, the cell phone has become the primary means by which 25% of those ages 12-17 access the internet. Among teens who are mobile internet users, that number rises to one in three (33%). Among teen smartphone owners, 50% say they use the internet mostly via their cell phone.

While cell-mostly internet use tracks with some of the same demographic trends as smartphone ownership (such as age), gender stands out as an especially important indicator.

Although teen girls and boys are equally likely to have smartphones and are equally likely to use some kind of mobile access to the internet, girls are significantly more likely than boys to say they access the internet mostly using their cell phone (29% vs. 20%). Older teen girls represent the leading edge of cell-mostly internet use; 34% of them say that most of their internet use happens on their cell phone. Among older teen girls who are smartphone owners, 55% say they use the internet mostly from their phone.

In overall internet use, youth ages 12-17 who are living in lower-income and lower-education households are still somewhat less likely to use the internet in any capacity — mobile or wired. However, those who fall into lower socioeconomic groups are just as likely and in some cases more likely than those living in higher income and highly educated households to use their cell phone as a primary point of access. Read more