Virtually all teens (ages 13-17) in the US now own or have access to a smartphone at home, with the vast majority also having access to computers and gaming consoles, according to a new study from Pew Research. So it might be not too surprising to discover that 46% say they’re online “almost constantly,” almost twice the share (24%) who said they were online with that frequency in 2014-2015.
Interestingly, the share of teens with access to computers and gaming consoles has not changed by much since 2014-2015. What has changed is access to smartphones, which has jumped from 73% of teens in 2014-2015 to 95% this year.
Smartphone access is almost universal no matter teens’ demographic group. Among the gender, racial/ethnic, age, and household income breakdowns, Black teens and 13-14-year-olds are least likely to have access to a smartphone, though 91% of each of those groups does. Meanwhile, 15-17-year-olds are the most likely to have access, with 98% making use of smartphones. This tracks with previous research, which has shown a big jump in smartphone ownership between the ages of 13 and 14.
There’s more disparity in desktop/laptop computer access, which rises from a low of 79% among teens in households with less than $30,000 in annual income to 94% among those in households with at least $75,000 in income. There’s also a gap in gaming console access for those income groups (70% and 82%, respectively), though the bigger disparity in gaming console access is among genders, with 91% of boys accessing at home versus 70% of girls. Gaming is second only to TV/video in youths’ entertainment screen time, other research has found, with almost 6 in 10 (59% of) teens surveyed playing video games on a target day.
All told, about 3 in 4 (76% of) teens living in households with at least $75,000 of annual income have or have access to all three of smartphone, gaming console, and desktop or laptop computer. That compares with 60% of teens in households with annual income of less $30,000.
94% of Teens Use the Internet At Least Several Times A Day
As expected, frequent use of the internet is virtually (pun intended) ubiquitous among American teens. Fully 97% use the internet on a daily basis, including 46% doing so “almost constantly” and another 48% “several times a day.” Back in 2014-2015, 80% used the internet at least several times a day, though only 1 in 4 (24%) did so “almost constantly.”
This year’s results indicate that girls (48%) are more likely than boys (43%) to be using the internet almost constantly. Black (56%) and Hispanic (55%) respondents are also much more likely than their White (37%) counterparts to report almost constant usage of the internet. Age also plays a role, with a majority (52%) of older teens ages 15-17 online almost constantly, versus 36% of 13-14-year-olds.
Finally, teens living in urban areas (53%) are more apt than those living in suburban (44%) and rural (43%) settings to be almost constantly online.
For more, check out the study here.
About the Data: The results are based on “a self-administered web survey conducted from April 14 to May 4, 2022, among a sample of 1,316 dyads, with each dyad (or pair) comprised of one U.S. teen ages 13 to 17 and one parent per teen.”