Teen smartphone ownership is rising across the board, but surprisingly, some of the highest penetration rates are among teens in low-income households.
According to Pew, overall teen smartphone penetration was 37 per cent, up from 23 per cent in 2011. Pew defines teens as Americans aged 12 to 17.
Interestingly, teens from households with an income of less than $30,000 have the second-highest penetration rate, at 39 per cent. Only teens from households with incomes over $75,000 have a higher rate of ownership, at 43 per cent.
This deviates from the PC and tablet markets, where, as you’d expect, ownership rises as you move up the income scale.
The explanation for the high rate of smartphone ownership among low-income teens likely lies in the fact that smartphones are likely their primary computing device (whereas in wealthier households teens have access to their own tablets or personal computers.)
Although U.S. teens have a high rate of PC ownership, 71 per cent say the PC they use most often is shared with other family members. You would expect this proportion to be even higher in low-income households.
Smartphones, then, offer teens a truly personal computing device, free from the prying eyes of parents and siblings — at an accessible price point.
It is no wonder then that Pew found 25 per cent of U.S. teens access the Internet primarily through their phones.