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Youth Cellphone Boom

March 14 2005

Ownership of cellphones among American 12-14 year olds has increased from 13% in February 2002 to 40% in December 2004, according to the fifth wave of the mKids tracking study from NOP World Technology.

Ownership has topped 16m among teens and tweens nationwide, with almost half (44%) of 10-18 year olds in the US owning a cell phone. Around three quarters (73%) of 18 year olds own cell phones, a 15% increase from 2002, and 75% of 15-17 year olds also carry them, up from 42% in 2002.

Ten-to-eighteen year olds are loyal to their provider - over three-quarters (77%) are still using their first provider, and more are planning to upgrade (26%) than switch in the next six months (11%) despite high awareness of number portability.

Better reception (20%), lower costs (19%) and parental persuasion (13%) were the main reasons for switching among the small percentage who did so.

Verizon leads the cell phone provider pack with 46% of US teens and tweens aware of the brand, closely followed by Cingular at 42%. Next are Sprint (23%) and AT&T (20%), followed by T Mobile (14%), Nextel (11%), Virgin (8%), Cellular One (7%) and Cricket (2%). Cingular has recently acquired AT&T Wireless, which may help it to overtake Verizon in future.

Teens and tweens are 'on the cutting edge of cell phone technology' according to Ben Rogers, Vice President, NOP World Technology. Most want wireless phones that convert into mp3 players (71%) and transform into digital cameras (70%). 'Since kids tend to stick with the same provider', says Rogers, 'it is crucial for carriers to offer affordable multi-function phones, as this may sway selection even more than the service itself'.

mKids US is a syndicated study which measures cellphone ownership and use, and also reports on brand affinities, entertainment habits and media consumption. 1,000 telephone interviews were conducted in each of five waves of interviewing. Wave 1-4 included 12-19 year olds in the top 25 DMAs, Wave 5 was expanded to include 10-18 year olds across the continental United States. Wave-to-wave trends include only those respondents with consistent base definitions.

NOP World is online at www.nopworld.com

All articles 2006-18 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas.

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