New “teens and technology” survey data from Pew give us a glimpse of the Internet’s future — it’s “mostly mobile.” According to the Q3 2012 survey, 23 percent of teens have tablets (vs. 25 percent of adults) and 47 percent of teen cell phone owners have smartphones. This compares with approximately 55 percent of mobile phone owning US adults according to Nielsen.
Given that these survey data are now about six months old, Pew’s teen figures could well be higher if the survey were done today.
Teens and adults in the US access the Internet at comparable levels, generally. However, among those teens who own smartphones, 50 percent say their Internet access is primarily or “mostly” on mobile devices. What’s more important than the actual real-world numbers is the fact that nearly half of these smartphone-owning teens are mobile-centric Internet users.
Here are some additional data points from the survey:
- 74 percent of teens are “mobile Internet users” vs. 55 percent of US adults. This gap is caused by people 65 and older, most of whom don’t use the mobile Internet.
- 78 percent of teens have a mobile phone and 47 percent have smartphones (37 percent of all teens have smartphone)
- Mobile phones are the primary way 25 percent of teens (12 to 17) get online. For smartphone teens, it’s 50 percent.
The implications of all this are pretty clear. Mobile looms even larger for people between the ages of 12 and 18 (as many as 22 million today) than it does for adults today. As this “generation M” (for mobile) matures and “takes control,” their preferred Internet devices will probably remain tablets and smartphones.