How Teens Use Mobile Devices And What That Means For You

How Teens Use Mobile Devices And What That Means For You

By: Katy Ryan Schamberger
May 18, 2012

How teens use cell phonesMobile devices aren’t just becoming must-have tools for adults—teens are latching onto their phones in droves, using them for a variety of applications including games, communication and connecting to social platforms, to name a few.

And although it’s likely no surprise that teens use their mobile devices a lot, it’s important to understand how they’re using them—and how those numbers are evolving over time. After all, these teenagers may become your business or brand’s customer base in a few years—and the better you understand what sort of information and services they want and how they search for and access that information, the better you can poise your brand—and your brand’s online presence—to tap into this sizable and potentially powerful market.

Fun Mobility’s “Generation OMG: How Teens Use Mobile Devices” offers a great snapshot of how teens used their mobile devices in 2011. Some of the more notable facts include:

  • Teen cell phone data usage tripled in 2011.
  • Voice usage has declined an average of more than 100 minutes/month.
  • Female teens text 28 percent more frequently than their male counterparts.
  • Forty percent of teenagers use a mobile phone or device for more than 4 hours a day; 32 percent use a mobile phone or device for more than 5 hours/day.
  • A whopping 76 percent said they spend more time on their mobile device than they did one year ago.
  • The four most popular things to do on a mobile device are play games, browse the Internet, text or chat and download apps.

How teens use mobile devices

While some of us have become reliant on our mobile devices, Fun Mobility’s research shows that teens are quickly becoming downright dependent on their mobile devices. And this signals a larger shift to mobile access that’s becoming more prevalent as each year passes. Sophisticated smartphones and tablet computers are making mobile more accessible to a larger group of users, and as more people incorporate these devices into their daily routines, they’re becoming increasingly likely to consume content, connect with others and even make purchase decisions in the palm of their hand.

And that means that if your business isn’t already thinking about (or implementing) a mobile marketing strategy, now’s the time. Something we can’t emphasize enough to our clients is that a successful mobile strategy goes far beyond simply having a mobile version of your website and/or blog. It’s about understanding what devices people are using to access your information, what they’re searching for and how you can best deliver what they need in an efficient, user-friendly manner that not only helps them in a specific instance—it keeps them coming back for more, too.

Were you surprised by Fun Mobility’s findings regarding teens and mobile devices? And, if you’re up for sharing, how is your company tackling the larger task of mobile marketing?

Lead image by Zawezome via Creative Commons

  • Great infographic!

  • I live with teenagers and my casual observation matches the data. “Forty percent of teenagers use a mobile phone or device for more than 4
    hours a day; 32 percent use a mobile phone or device for more than 5
    “The four most popular things to do on a mobile device are play games, browse the Internet, text or chat and download apps.”
    All true!

  • numpty

    This would be more insightful if there was a comparison with other age groups. To be honest, the ‘typical teen usage’ sounds not very different to the mobile usage of me or my friends, and we’re all over 40!

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  • I teach college aged kids – a bit older than the context of this
    article, but I believe that the stats are similar for both groups. I have two
    thoughts on this article. From a branding perspective, the fact that teens and
    post-teens are spending more time on mobile devices does not mean that they are
    searching for products or information. Most people in this age group are
    disinterested in the world around them and are interested mostly in socializing
    with friends and peers; not engaging with brands. Which brings me to my second
    thought; modern businesses sometimes make the mistake of believing that if a
    young person can use a mobile device they are tech savvy. I find
    that this is not true. In my college level web development class, if I ask my
    students to “create an empty folder on your desktop”, they look at me with
    blanks stares. Basic computer skills are not being cultivated because mobile
    devices are usually much more simple and streamlined UIs.

  • Anonymous

    Oh Ralph, you made me literally laugh out loud with that last part. You’re absolutely right, devices don’t necessarily equate to tech savviness. And while I agree with you that they might not be using the web to search for products or services, they are using it to communicate, in a variety of ways. And in the future, when they become consumers, they will (probably) continue to use those devices to search and spend their money – no?

    And with regard to your second point, that’s interesting. I find there are a lot of basics that are being overlooked – like typing. Have you ever watched someone who’s not taken a typing class type? Hideous! IMO, and you might agree based on your comment, there is a great need for many of the basics – for multi-generations.

    Thanks so much for coming by – I loved hearing your thoughts!

  • I think there is a reasonable probability that the young people of today will be indoctrinated into using their mobile devices as social mediums and that behavior may be difficult to curb later. Tomorrow’s consumer may not want the device that they use to socialize to be the same device that constantly bombards them with ads, branding and marketing. I’m not really trying to convince anyone about this, but I do think its a practical scenario.

    On the other side, I know a company that hired a director of IT based on the fact that the owner saw a candidate on an iPhone and assumed that that candidate must have been knowledgeable in IT. That’s just plain irresponsible.

  • And, yes…young people should really be taught basic computer skills formally. And that transcends mouse clicking. Using a computer on a technical level is just as important as using it on a practical level. I see students posting pictures of themselves in questionable circumstances and cursing out instructors on social streams all the time. Behavior like this will cause employers to steer clear. So I guess the principle is that mobile tech can be great, but it can cut both ways for the young and old alike.

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