ACTIONABLE RESEARCH ON GEN Z AND MILLENNIALS
What Exactly Are Young People Doing On Their Phones?

What Exactly Are Young People Doing On Their Phones?

Yes, young consumers are addicted to their mobile devices. But do you know exactly what they’re doing on them every day? We do. We asked Millennials and teens about their mobile use and found out exactly what a day in their mobile life looks like.

You hear everyday about how Millennials and teens’ mobile use is changing everything, and rising trends like peer payments, their continued love of image sharing, emoticon use, and their selfie-obsessions are important to keep up with. But the reality is that not many people know the basics about what they’re using their phones for on a regular basis. So what does the average day on a young consumers’ device look like?

In our February monthly survey, we asked 13-32-year-olds all about their device use, and our spotlight on their smartphones gathered data on their everyday mobile activities. Before we delve into that, let’s look at the role these devices play in their lives. 82% of 13-32-year-olds say they own a smartphone, making it their third most owned device after laptop/netbook and headphones. (11% say they own a feature, or non-smartphone.) These ownership numbers increase with age, with 63% of 13-17-year-olds saying they own a smartphone, and 92% of 21-24-year-olds reporting they own one, more than any other age group. When we asked them to tell us which device they own is the one they can’t live without, 55% said smartphone—a number that is even higher for 21-29-year-olds. Females were more likely to be passionate about their phones than males, with 61% saying it was the one device they couldn’t live without, compared to 50% of males. Ok, so the majority has them, and the majority say they couldn’t live without them. So what are they doing on them every day? Here’s our smartphone spotlight: 

 

Their thumbs must be tired. The number one thing that Millennials and teens are doing on their smartphones every day is messaging, a behavior that is driving the popularity of messaging apps like WhatsApp and Kik. Young consumers 25-29-years-old were the most likely to be messaging every day, with 96% saying they message once a day or more. Texting has clearly usurped talking—especially for teens. While 70% of consumers 18-32-years-old say they make phone calls once a day or more, only 56% of 13-17-year-olds say the same. 

In fact, teens were far more likely to listen to music on their phones every day than make a phone call, with 76% of consumers under 18-years-old saying they listen to music on their phones daily. That’s not the only age divide we found. Teens are also more likely to be watching videos on their smartphones every day than older Millennials. 57% of 13-17-year-olds say they watch videos on their phones every day, compared to 48% of 18-32-year-olds. Their mobile media differences don’t stop there: 

Teens are more likely to watch movies and TV, and to be recording their own videos on their phones than Millennials over 18-years-old. While 18-32-year-olds are partaking in these activities as well, when it comes to daily activities, it looks like teens are the ones driving the mobile entertainment revolution. So what are older Millennials doing more than younger? 46% of consumers over 18-years-old are using their smartphones to check news, sports scores, and breaking news daily compared to 29% of teens.