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Pew survey: 25 percent of teens are ‘cell-mostly' Internet users

The Pew Internet & American Life Project released new survey results last week that revealed significant upward trends across multiple aspects of when and how teens utilize smartphones.

The survey — conducted in concert with Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society — concluded that “smartphone adoption among teens has increased substantially and mobile access to the Internet is pervasive. One in four teens are ‘cell-mostly’ Internet users, who say they mostly go online using their phone.”

Other major findings from the Pew survey include:

    • 78 percent of teens now have a cell phone, and almost half (47 percent) of them own smartphones. That translates into 37 percent of all teens who have smartphones, up from just 23 percent in 2011.
    • 23 percent of teens have a tablet computer, a level comparable to the general adult population.
    • 95 percent of teens use the Internet.
    Below is a sampling of the “lead paragraphs” that various news outlets and tech websites employed in framing their online coverage of the new Pew survey:

Associated Press: Keep computers in a common area so you can monitor what your kids are doing. It's a longstanding directive for online safety — but one that's quickly becoming moot as more young people have mobile devices, often with Internet access.

Education Week: The use of smartphones has jumped among teenagers over the past year, according to a newly released national survey, which also shows that one in four of youths in that age group access the Internet mostly through their cellphones. The results … offer one of the clearest indications to date of the extent to which many teenagers have abandoned desktop computers in favor of mobile devices.

NBC News: Using the computer for Internet access is so 2004, at least for many teens: One in four now skip laptops and desktop computers for their phones, preferring to be ‘cell-mostly’ Internet users. And among the teens lucky enough to own a smartphone, half use that device as their primary means of accessing the Internet.

Reuters: About 37 percent of Americans ages 12 to 17 tap the Internet using a smartphone, up sharply in just a year, according to a 2012 Pew survey released on Wednesday. Twenty-three percent of teens mainly go online using their phones and not a desktop or laptop computer, versus 15 percent of adults.

CNET: The old stereotype that teens love using telephones still holds true even in the digital age. Now, though, instead of landlines, almost all teenagers use cell phones. And, according to a new Pew Research Center report released today, more and more U.S. adolescents own smartphones.

Mashable: It's a sight that's all too common, now: teenagers never looking up, glued to their cellphones every hour of the day. Text messages may seem like the major culprit for this behavior, but a new report shows that one in four teens use cell phones as their device of choice when browsing the web.

Jamshid Ghazi Askar is a graduate of BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School and member of the Utah State Bar. Contact him at or 801-236-6051.


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