U.S. teens triple mobile data usage year-over-year

Teens have officially joined the mobile Data Tsunami, more than tripling mobile data consumption in the past year while maintaining their stronghold as the leading message senders. Using recent data from monthly cell phone bills of 65,000+ mobile subscribers who volunteered to participate in the research, Nielsen analyzed mobile usage trends among teens in the United States. In the third quarter of 2011, teens age 13-17 used an average of 320 MB of data per month on their phones, increasing 256 percent over last year and growing at a rate faster than any other age group. Much of this activity is driven by teen males, who took in 382 MB per month while females used 266 MB.

Nielsen: Monthly data usage by age Q310 vs. Q311

Messaging remains the centerpiece of mobile teen behavior. The number of messages exchanged monthly (SMS and MMS) hit 3,417 per teen in Q3 2011, averaging seven messages per waking hour. Teen females are holding the messaging front, sending and receiving 3,952 messages per month versus 2,815 from males. Aside from messaging, data heavy activities such as mobile internet, social networking, email, app downloads, and app usage are the most popular mobile activities.

Nielsen: Average number of messages exchanged per month Q311

Teens are not focused on making calls via their mobile phones. Voice usage has declined the most among this group, from an average of 685 minutes to 572 minutes. When surveyed, the top three reasons teens said that they prefer messaging to calling was because it is faster (22 percent), easier (21 percent), and more fun (18 percent).

For more mobile insights, download State of the Media: The Mobile Media Report Q3 2011.

Source: The Nielsen Company

[Attribution: Forbes. Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dominick P.” for the heads up.]


  1. The most common word texted was ‘like’. Cuz he was like texting and I was like reading my messages and she was like looking over my shoulder and just like reading my messages. Like she was like a total ….

    1. Nonetheless 313, kids are “writing letters” again, the important communication tool of developing writing skills…this is good, “evn tho therez lotz” of abbreviating with the evolution of a shortened texting vernacular. While “IMAQT, RUAQT2?” isn’t exactly Tolstoy, it is at least self-expression in written form.

  2. Maybe the cellular carriers should look at car insurance companies as a means for billing.

    Just as car insurance is higher for teens then for someone middle aged or older, maybe the carriers should have plans based on age also. If the teens, as a percentage, are increasing the demand for data, then should not these data hogs be charged more? If an older person seldom uses all the greatness that can be had from the iPhone, then why be forced to pay the same?

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