mobile-apps2Fifty-eight percent of all U.S. teens ages 12-17 have downloaded a mobile app to their cell phone or tablet computer, according to results of an ongoing study of American teenagers’ use of technology and online privacy conducted by the Pew Internet in American Life Project and Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

Seventy-eight percent of U.S. teens have a cell phone and 23% have tablets while 82% own at least one of these mobile devices, according to the research partners.

While teens of all ages are equally likely to own a tablet, older teens are more likely to own cell phones, researchers found in previous reports. App downloading among teenagers, according to the latest findings, doesn’t vary significantly by age: 66% of 12-13 year olds said they had downloaded mobile apps as compared to 73% of those 14-17.

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Teenage males are the most active mobile app downloaders: 79% said they had downloaded an app to their cell phone or tablet as compared to 62% of teenage females. Regardless of gender, teens in wealthier families tend to download more than those living in lower income homes: 79% of teens living in households earning $50,000 per year or more said they had downloaded mobile apps as compared to 60% living in households with incomes less than $50,000 per year. Downloading behavior didn’t vary significantly by parents’ education level, race or ethnicity, the researchers found.

American teens typically download free mobile apps, and social media and game apps to their cell phones and tablets, though they also downloaded music, news and weather apps. Besides cost and type, they consider a number of other factors in making their decisions whether or not to download a mobile app. These include: number of downloads, reviews, ratings and the app’s appearance.

Turning to teens’ behavior regarding privacy and downloading mobile apps the researchers found that just over half (51%) avoided downloading due to concerns about having to share personal information in order to do so.

Younger teens (12-13) were more likely to be concerned about sharing personal information with mobile app distributors than older teens (14-17) – 56% vs. 49%. The researchers found no significant variation in this regard when it came to gender, household income, race or ethnicity.

Twenty-six percent of teen app users said they had uninstalled a mobile app once they found out it was collecting personal information they didn’t want to share, with teenage boys and girls equally likely to have done so.

Forty-six percent said they had turned off the geolocation features of a mobile app due to concerns about either the companies or their parents having access to that information. Pew Internet Project researchers had found indications that parents were using the GIS features built into cell phones and tablets to keep track of their teens’ whereabouts as early as 2009. Teenage girls (59%) were much more likely than boys (37%) to turn these features off.

Image courtesy of flickr user Ifuturistics.

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One thought on “Pew: 78% of U.S. Teens Have a Cellphone, 23% Have a Tablet

  1. Interesting facts and figures. I am surprised by the percentage of teens turning off the tracking device of an app. It is nice to know that teens are aware enough to realize that some of these apps were collecting personal information about them and aware enough to uninstall those apps.

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