If teenagers are an indicator of tomorrow's world—and they most certainly are—then the future is mobile.
In a new Nielson study, teens, defined as 13 to 17, were found to have tripled—indeed, more than tripled—their mobile data usage over the past year. Their data usage growth of 256% far exceeded that of any other age category. Usage among those aged 18 to 24 increased 147% (second highest) and 118% among those aged 25 to 34 (fourth highest). The least growth actually came from those aged 45 to 54; at 91%, even those aged 65-plus increased their usage more.
Teens are now using an average of more than 300 MB of data per month on their smartphones, with males averaging nearly 400 MB and girls clocking in just below 300. Despite a boost in usage in data-heavy activitys like app downloads, rich media content consumption, and social networking, instant messaging remains "the centrepiece of mobile teen behaviour."
Not only are teens using more and more data, but they're also making less and less calls. Voice usage declined sharpest among teens, creating the largest gap of any demographic between data usage growing and voice usage shrinking. Teens almost unanymously preferred instant messaging to calling, calling it "faster," "easier," and "more fun."
While teens don't have the highest penetration of smartphone ownership—largely due to their reliance on parents' finances—it's clear that this upcoming generation will render dumb phones obsolete with its instatiable appetite for apps, social networks, and the mobile web. Sending an average of over 3,000 texts per month—compared to less than 100 for those aged 55 to 64—today's hyper-connected youth is attached to the hip at their smartphones and that won't be changing anytime soon.