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Most Kids Get First Cell Phone At Age 12 Or 13

December 3, 2010

The majority of teenagers get their first cell phone when they reach the age of 12 or 13, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project.

The group analyzed a survey they had conducted in September 2009, in which parents were asked about how old their child was when they first received their cell phone. 

The results showed that 23 percent of the children had received their first cell phone when they were 12 years old, while another 23 percent did so at the age of 13. 

Just 3 percent of children had received their first cell phone before reaching the age of 10, while 6 percent did so at the age of 10 and 11 percent at the age of 11. 

The data also showed that 14 percent of children had received their first cell phone at the age of 14, while 11 percent did so at the age of 15 and 8 percent did so at the age of 16. 

Just one percent of teens had received their first cell phone at the age of 17. 

The data obtained from the survey did not include the roughly 25% of teens who do not have cell phones.

The Pew researchers emphasized that this data applies to teens who are 17 now and got their phones 5 years ago, as well as current 13 year olds who have had a phone for 6 months.

Therefore, “this gives us the average for all teens across the past 5 or so years, rather than a full understanding of how adoption of cell phones by teens may be changing over time.”

To better understand changes in the age of cell phone adoption over time, the Pew researchers broke out the data according to age, and found that younger teens were slightly more likely to get cell phones at younger ages than were the older teens.

For instance, none of the 17 year olds had received cell phones when they were 10 years old or younger, while 28% of 12 year olds did.  

The researchers said there is a clear point in time about two to four years ago when a significant percentage of kids of all ages received their first cell phone.

However, over time, the bulk of kids are getting cell phones at ages 12 and 13 as they transition to middle school, they concluded.

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