Teens are fervent communicators. Straddling childhood and adulthood, they communicate frequently with a variety of important people in their lives: friends and peers, parents, teachers, coaches, bosses, and a myriad of other adults and institutions. This report examines the tools teens use to communicate, with a particular focus on mobile devices, and then places the use of those tools in the broader context of how teens choose to communicate with people in their lives.
The volume of texting among teens has risen from 50 texts a day in 2009 to 60 texts for the median teen text user. In addition, smartphones are gaining teenage users. Some 23% of all those ages 12-17 say they have a smartphone and ownership is highest among older teens: 31% of those ages 14-17 have a smartphone, compared with just 8% of youth ages 12-13.
About the Survey
The 2011 Teens and Digital Citizenship Survey sponsored by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project obtained telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 799 teens ages 12 to 17 years old and their parents living in the continental United States. The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. The interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by Princeton Data Source, LLC from April 19 to July 14, 2011. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is ±4.8 percentage points.
In addition to the two surveys, this study conducted 7 focus groups with teens between the ages of 12 and 19 in the greater Washington, DC metro area in January and February 2011. Participants were recruited via word of mouth, email, schools, and non-profit organizations. A total of 57 youth participated in the focus groups, though each group averaged 8 to 14 people.
For more information, please see the Methodology section of this report.