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Teens Go Mobile for More Than Texts

Talk, text, see, surf.

July 9, 2009

According to the report “How Teens Use Media,” from Nielsen, 77% of US teens had their own mobile phone in late 2008.

Mobile Phone Ownership Among US Teens, Q4 2008 (% of total)

Another 11% of teens borrowed someone else’s mobile phone on a regular basis, leaving only around one in 10 with no access to a mobile device.

Young people have a well-deserved reputation as avid SMS messagers (see Mobile Texting Opportunities for Marketers).

The average number of texts sent and received by teen mobile subscribers has climbed steadily over the past two years, while their mobile calls have actually declined.

Average Number of Calls Made/Received and Text Messages Sent/Received per Month per US Teen Mobile Phone Subscriber, Q1 2007-Q1 2009

Just 13% of teen mobile subscribers told Nielsen they were allowed a limited number of text messages. About one in five had a limited number of voice minutes.

Texting is the biggest mobile data activity, but it’s far from the only one. Teens make up 20% of the mobile video audience, at 18% penetration.

Teens are voracious mobile video viewers. They spend an average of 6.5 hours per month watching clips on their “third screen,” significantly more than the 3 hour 37 minute average across all age groups.

Music and comedy videos were most popular with teens on the go.

Leading Genres of Mobile Video Watched by US Teen Mobile Video Viewers, Q1 2009 (% reach)

The mobile Internet was used by 37% of US teen mobile users. Among the countries studied by Nielsen, only China enjoyed greater adoption of the mobile Web, at 50% of teen users.

“As teens around the world continue to adopt mobile phones, mobile media and messaging, marketers will be paying attention,” wrote the report authors.

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