Teens and Mobile Phones Over the Past 5 Years

As a parent of two teenagers and a tween, I can assure you that “a cell phone” is still the hot item on the Christmas list of kids today. It’s definitely on my 12-year-old’s Christmas list. She claims that she’s the only one without it.

Little did she know that I could tell her exactly what percentage of her friends have one!  :)  Yes, 51% of 12-year olds own cell phones. So yes, she’s in the minority, but just barely!

The fascinating fact is how much this percentage has grown in the last 5 years. In 2004, only 18% of 12-year-olds owned a cell phone.

Where am I getting this? Pew Internet just did a study a few months back looking back at teen mobile use over the last five years. Fascinating report! It’s amazing to see the growth in teen mobile phone use! (note: a few weeks ago I blogged about teen media use and showed a similar Neilson report, although that chart showed what percentage of kids get their first cell phone at what age).

Look at the change from 2004 (dark blue) to now (light blue) for ages 12-17:

This entire report is interesting. It includes teens daily activities on a phone, the demographics of teen cell phone users, how many teen cell phone users compared to adults, etc.

I find this chart even more fascinating:

Forget the ages for a second. Look at the mobile time (dark blue) vs. face-to-face time (light blue)! See how much more kids are relying on technology than good ol’ face-to-face time? The funny thing is, kids are becoming less comfortable talking face-to-face.

I keep seeing this fact popping up in new studies. In Chapter 2 of my CONNECT book (in stock within a week) I touched on that very subject, highlighting the decrease in “face-to-face” time and the void that it’s creating in kids lives (I actually blogged about that a while back- people today have less close friends). I think it’s crucial as parents and youth workers to connect with kids “face-to-face.” This is slowly becoming more difficult in today’s society… hence the need for a book helping adults connect with kids.   :)

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over a dozen books including the new Get Your Teenager Talking, The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket, The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide for Teenager, and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers, Connect: Real Relationships in a World of Isolation, and the 10-Minute Talks series. Jonathan speaks and trains at conferences, churches and events across North America, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan and his wife Lori, and their three teenagers Alec, Alyssa and Ashley live in California.
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One Response to Teens and Mobile Phones Over the Past 5 Years

  1. Kelly Sykes says:

    Glad to know my 12 year old is not the only 12 year old without a cell phone…

    About 2 months ago, my daughter was invited to a birthday party of one of her BFF’s who is only a year younger, but two grades younger than her.

    The party started at a restaurant for lunch and then followed by a day of shopping at the mall. All of the girls except my daughter had cell phones…the other girls who were all in 5th grade spent the first 30-45 minutes of the party texting at the same table….to each other and others…I sat there in silent amazement watching this transpire.

    It is a sad, sad thing to see these kids who are having a more and more difficult time connecting without some electronic device! What a world we live in!

    Kelly