Minority, Low-Income Teens Likely to Use Phones to Get Online
A new study reveals that teens from lower-income households and minority teens are significantly more likely to use their phones to go online than to use any other method.
Although the mobile Internet provides a way for them to access the Internet at home, the report from the University of Michigan indicates that it's "expensive to be poor" as teens have to pay for it themselves.
In 2009, just 27 percent of American teens with mobile phones reported using their devices to access the Internet. However, teens from lower income families earning less than $30,000 annually and minority teens were significantly more likely (41 percent) to use their phones to go online.
Of these lower income teens, just 70 percent had computers in the home, compared to 92 percent of teens in families earning more than $30,000 per year.
"Internet access via mobile phones may offer a means of narrowing the digital divide, allowing connectivity for those otherwise off the grid," the report said.
Considering those who own mobile phones, 65 percent of teens from households earning more than $75,000 per year are on family plans with someone else, such as a parent, paying the bill.
In contrast, just 31 percent of teens from households earning under $30,000 per year are on a family plan paid for by someone else, with 23 percent paying entirely for their own plan compared with only 4 percent of those from the high income group.
Scott Campbell, an assistant professor of communication at the University of Michigan, told TechNewsDaily that the researchers were surprised by the findings.
"We were surprised to see the results, but considering the importance of the Internet in the lives of young people , it does make sense," Campbell said.
"The mobile Internet is serves a very important purpose here considering teens need to go online for school, job information and to stay plugged in socially ," Campbell added. "This makes the mobile Web an important option for them when they want to go online and don't have a computer in the home."