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UK Teens Far Outshine US Counterparts in Smartphone Usage

Eight out of 10 UK teens on mobile use a smartphone compared with only 50% of US teens

UK teens are fast becoming the country’s most active and advanced smartphone users, and far outpace their counterparts in the US, according to a new report from eMarketer.

Teens in the UK, like most everywhere else in the world, are incredibly digitally literate. But while it’s unsurprising to see this heightened digital competence among a demographic deemed “digital natives,” what is interesting is UK teens’ equally heightened preference for smartphone use.

According to new estimates from the report, “UK Teens: Pocketable PCs Empowering a Generation,” about 93% of UK teens will use mobile phones in 2013. This is a giant leap from the 17.1% of children ages 11 and younger expected to use mobile devices this year.

At face value, this penetration figure doesn’t seem extraordinary—five other age groups will see higher mobile uptake than this in 2013. But one must take into consideration the fact that many teens likely have little to no disposable income, which undoubtedly affects the figure. So, perhaps this level of penetration is more impressive than is apparent at first.

Things become even more interesting when one considers what types of devices these teens on mobile are using. eMarketer estimates that smartphone penetration as a percentage of mobile phone users among teens will reach 81% this year and rise to 96% in 2017. Penetration gains between 2013 and 2017 will position teens as the age group with the second-highest penetration rate out of all smartphone-toting mobile users throughout the forecast period.

When one considers that eMarketer’s smartphone penetration estimate as a percentage of mobile phone users in each age group will be 50.9% for US teens in 2013, this UK number looks all the more remarkable.

The full report, “UK Teens: Pocketable PCs Empowering a Generation” also answers these key questions:

  • How are UK teens using the internet, mobile, social media and other digital channels?
  • How is smartphone use shaping the digital landscape among this demographic?
  • What do these patterns of use mean for marketers in the UK?

This report is available to eMarketer corporate subscription clients only. eMarketer clients, log in and view the report now.

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