Teenagers have previously lagged behind adults in their ownership of cell phones, but several years of survey data collected by the Pew Internet & American Life Project show that those ages 12-17 are closing the gap in cell phone ownership. The Project first began surveying teenagers about their mobile phones in its 2004 Teens and Parents project when a survey showed that 45% of teens had a cell phone. Since that time, mobile phone use has climbed steadily among teens ages 12 to 17 – to 63% in fall of 2006 to 71% in early 2008.
In comparison, 77% of all adults (and 88% of parents) had a cell phone or other mobile device at a similar point in 2008. Cell phone ownership among adults has since risen to 85%, based on the results of our most recent tracking survey of adults conducted in April 2009. The Project is currently conducting a survey of teens and their parents and will be releasing the new figures in early 2010.
We went back to our databanks in light of the intriguing findings about adult mobile phone use in two of our recent reports, and to help lay the ground work for our current project on youth and mobile phones. This memo is the result of our data mining.
About the Survey
Four different teen data sets were used to produce this report, along with data from four adult-only tracking surveys. Unless otherwise specified, the data in this report comes from the Teens, Gaming and Civics survey, fielded between November 2007 and February 2008. The Parent and Teen Survey on Gaming and Civic Engagement, sponsored by the Pew Internet and American Life Project and supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, obtained telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1102 12- to 17-year-olds and their parents in continental U.S. telephone households. The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research International. Interviews were done in English by Princeton Data Source, LLC, from November 1, 2007, to February 5, 2008. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is ±3.2%. For more details please see the methodology section at the end of this report.