Monday, August 24, 2009

Teen Cellphone Use

Teens are closing the gap on adults when it comes to cell (mobile) phone use, according to a new Pew study. See the graphic to the right, or click on it to see a bigger image.

Yes, my teenagers finally got cell phones last month -- they'd been borrowing ours for years -- so they'll show up in the data soon enough.

The demographics of teen cell users are fairly consistent. Boys and girls, about the same. Race, not really a factor. Income, some effect but not as much as you'd think. Scroll down to see those tables if you're into data crunching.

What's this to do with what people know? A lot of these phones are truly mobile media devices, so you can get news and weather and sports -- if you choose. Or think of it in this way: every minute spent staring at that tiny screen is one less minute on the computer or watching TV or reading, thus cutting into the time in which political learning might take place.

The media pie doesn't usually get bigger, the slices among the different media tend to become smaller and smaller for older media, bigger and bigger for the newer media. In other words, radio never disappeared, but its slice of the pie (our time) got smaller, and became more specialized such as music in our cars or at work. The "slice" of mobile phones continues to grow and as a consequence, time spent with other media will likely suffer. Since its hard to get a lot of news via phone (not impossible, but less likely), you'd have to hypothesize that political knowledge will also be reduced.

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