Among teens, age is the most important variable in mobile phone ownership. Older teens are much more likely to own phones than younger teens, and the largest increase occurs at age 14, right at the transition between middle and high school. Among 12-13 year olds, 52% had a cell phone in 2008. Mobile phone ownership jumped to 72% at age 14 in that survey, and by the age of 17 more than eight in ten teens (84%) had their own cell phone.
Beyond age, there are few differences in mobile phone ownership by other personal characteristics. Girls and boys are equally likely to own a phone and there are no differences by race or ethnicity in phone ownership. However, there are small differences in phone ownership by socio-economic status; in families with the highest levels of income and education, teens are more likely than in less well-off families to have a cell phone.
Internet users are more likely than non-users to have a cell phone; however half of teens who do not go online do own a mobile phone.