Teenagers are getting mobile and data savvy

New research from Nielsen shows young people around the world love their mobile phones, but they use them in vastly different ways.

In China, the mobile internet reigns supreme. Seventy-three percent of Chinese mobile youth ages 15-24 reported using the mobile internet in the previous 30 days compared to 48% of US mobile youth and 46% of young people in the UK. Across Europe figures were significantly lower with 20% of Germans, 24% of Italian, and 21% of Spanish youths using the mobile Internet, however Russia bucked the European trend with 39% mobile internet usage.

Smartphone Penetration among youth 15-24 market - Source Nielsen Dec 2010

As you would expect smartphones are also more likely to be owned by youths in the developed economies. Italy has the highest youth ownership of smartphones with 47%, Spain is second with 38%, followed by the UK and US with 36% and 33% respectively, and India is in last place with 10%.

Ninety-four percent of teen subscribers self-identify as advanced data users, and while teen usage does not reach levels of activity seen by young adults, it has increased substantially versus Q2 last year, from 14 MB to 62 MB. This fourfold increase is the largest jump among all age groups. Much of this boost is led by males, who are more gadget-savvy and consume 75 MB of data, versus 17 MB in Q2 last year. Teenage girls use about 53 MB of data, compared to 11 MB a year ago.

Teens are not only using more data, but they are also downloading a wider range of applications. Software downloads among teen subscribers who use apps enjoyed a solid 12% percent increase in activity versus last year, from 26% to 38%. This includes popular apps such as Facebook, Pandora and YouTube. Usage of the mobile web has also surpassed activity on pre-installed games, ringtone downloads and instant messaging, too. Other mobile activities like mail and text alerts have also seen significant growth.

Source Nielsen Dec 2010

Messaging tends to skew female in most markets, with a few notable exceptions: Indian males ages 15-24 are twice as likely as their female counterparts to use text messaging and four times more likely to use picture messaging. China and Saudi Arabia also skew male when it comes to messaging, but by a more narrow margin.

In the UK 58% of female mobile users use SMS and 63% use MMS – presumably to ask if their bum looks big in this. Forty two percent of young UK male mobile users use SMS and 37% use MMS. It’s also interesting to see quite how popular MMS is in India with young men, some 82% use MMS that’s 12% more than SMS.

For more information on Mobile Youth Around the World, download the Nielsen report for free from Mobile Youth Around the World.

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