Teens who pay for their own phones use the phone in a wider range of ways.
Teens who pay for the full cost of their cell phones do more on and with their phones. Those teens who have parents who pay for at least part of their phone engage in a more limited number of activities on their phones. While almost all teens use their phones to text, teens who pay the entire cost of ownership for their cell phones send more texts and do so more frequently throughout the day. Three-quarters (73%) of teens who pay for their own phone say they send text messages several times a day, compared with 65% of teens whose parents pay for their phone and 55% of teens who pay for part of their phone. In addition to texting frequently, teens who pay for their own phones are more likely to send email and instant messages on their phone, and are more likely to send, receive and record videos than other teens with cell phones that are fully or partially paid for by others. They are also more likely to use social network sites on their mobile phone, and to send and receive photos. Teens who pay for their own phones are also more likely to buy things online via the cell phone.
Teens who pay part of the cost of their cell phone are the most likely to play music on their phone and more likely than teens whose parents cover the cost of phone ownership to install applications on their phones.
Teens whose phone use is fully paid by someone else are more likely than other teens to take photos with their phones, though not necessarily any more likely to share those photos with others via their handset.
All teens are equally likely to play games on their phone regardless of how their phone costs are covered. Many games are pre-loaded on cell phone handsets and do not require additional or on-going costs to play. Another subset of games may be downloaded to a cell phone, but often result in charges or costs to the phone owner.
Teens on pre-paid plans are less likely to use many cell phone functions.
All teens, regardless of phone plan, are just as likely to send text messages, instant messages or play music on their phone. However, teens on pre-paid plans are less likely than teens with other plan types to engage in almost all other kinds of activities with their handsets. With the exception of being more likely to use their phone to buy a product or service than other users, teens on pre-paid plans are less likely to take, send or receive photos, record videos or download and use an app for their phone.
Teens with family plans are more likely than other phone owners to record and exchange videos, and are a bit less likely than pre-paid plan users to play games on their phone. They are less likely than teens with a separate phone contract to access a social network site or use a downloaded app on their phones. Otherwise, family plan users tend to be the most middle-of-the road users of the available functions of their phones.
Teens with a separate contract for their phone are more likely than other teens to use their phones to send and receive email, visit a social network site or use a downloaded app on their phones. They are also more likely than teens with prepaid plans to take and share photos and record videos, but are less likely to have bought something using their phone.
Teens on metered plans are less likely to take advantage of cell phone add-ons, except music.
Among different types of voice or text messaging plans, teens with the most "metered" plans – plans where minutes or texts must be paid for individually – generally have the most constrained and limited use of their handsets. Just half of teens who say they must pay per message for texts send them. That compares with 95% or more of teens with unlimited or bulk texting plans who are texters. But beyond text messaging, teens with metered plans for voice or text are less likely than their peers to use multimedia tools like photos or video on their phones, and less likely to access an online social network. The only exception is music – teens on metered plans are just as likely and sometimes more likely to play music on their phones than teens with other types of plans.