Teens and Their Phones

As smartphone usage among U.S. teens rises, teens begin to doubt whether the ubiquitous device is such a good thing. Smartphones are quickly becoming a basic necessity for teens.

In 2018, it is easy to forget how teens were slow to acquire smartphones. A 2012 poll by Common Sense media found just 41% of 13- to 17-year-olds had a smartphone. However, today the majority of teens own one. eMarketer estimates that “81.1% of 12- to 17-year-olds will have a smartphone this year, with the number expected to reach 85.0% in 2022.”

Does income play a critical role in providing teens smartphones? In March and April of 2018, Common Sense Media discovered “88% of teens in lower-income families had a smartphone, as did 87% in middle- and 92% in upper-income families.” As a result, we can infer income and economic status does not dramatically impact teens acquiring a smartphone device.

Teens spend 21% more time on their mobile devices compared to other U.S. adults. Research conducted by Verto Analytics in H1 2018, showed 13 to 17 year-olds spend 62% of their total time using mobile devices. Adults, mobile usage accounted for 41% of their total time.

Pew Research Center took a poll in March and April 2018 among 13- to 17-year-olds and discovered, “49% of the girls and 35% of the boys said they feel “anxious” when they don’t have their mobile phone. Likewise, 32% of the girls and 20% of the boys said they experience feeling lonely in situation without their mobile device.”

Although teens find it difficult to turn off their mobile devices, they also experience anxiety with the 24/7 connectivity. In a poll from June 2018, eMarketer found 41% of teens said they feel “overwhelmed every day by the quantity of notifications they receive.”

It’s important to learn how to disconnect in a digital world.

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