Generation OMG – Infographic and Data on How Teens Use Mobile Devices

April 3, 2012

Frustrated at your mobile data download speed? Or, Irritated that most carriers have put bandwidth limits their data plans? Blame the apps – or the teens that love to use them.  A great new infographic highlights the trends, but first, here’s a little background.

In December 2011, Nielsen research found that “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% over last year and growing at a rate faster than any other age group.”

That’s not to say teens are the biggest data hogs, those aged 25-34 take that distinction, but teens are rapidly overtaking other generations in their data demand.

The data usage among teens isn’t for talking; they’d rather text – though the biggest texters are also the biggest talkers. According to Nielsen’s research voice usage has seen its greatest decline among teen users – from an average of 685 minutes to 572 minutes. Over the same time period, the average number of text messages sent by teens hit a shocking 3,417 messages a month, or roughly 114 texts every day.

When surveyed, the top three reasons teens said that they prefer messaging to calling was because it is faster (22%), easier (21%), and more fun (18%).

Last week (March 2012) new research  from the Pew Internet & American Life Project provided new evidence on the preference to text over calling:

  • 14% of all teens say they talk daily with friends on a landline, down from 30% who said so in 2009. Nearly a third (31%) of teens say they never talk on a landline with friends (or report that they cannot do so).
  • 26% of all teens (including those with and without cell phones) say they talk daily with friends on their cell phone, down from 38% of teens in 2009.
  • 63% of all teens say they exchange text messages every day with people in their lives. This far surpasses the frequency with which they pick other forms of daily communication, including phone calling by cell phone (39% do that with others every day), face-to-face socializing outside of school (35%), social network site messaging (29%), instant messaging (22%), talking on landlines (19%) and emailing (6%).

Another way to look at the rise in data use is to consider that AT&T’s mobile data traffic grew 8,000% in the four years from 2008 and 2011 – and they expect mobile data traffic to be eight to ten times higher by 2015.

Now, research by social entertainment company Fun Mobility has leveraged existing research and added their own to create an infographic titled “Generation OMG: How Teens Use Mobile Devices” that illustrates the growth of teen (ages 13-17) data usage and how much of that increase comes from gaming and mobile applications.

Check out the infographic:




NTSB Recommends Ban on All Non-Emergency Use of Mobile Devices

December 14, 2011

A ban on the use of all mobile devices by drivers except in emergencies has just been recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Their decision is based on investigations into distraction-related accidents for the past decade where electronic distraction has played an increasing role, combined with escalating concerns about the increasing capabilities of mobile devices that will give rise to even more distractions.  “Every year, new devices are being released. People are tempted to update their Facebook page, they are tempted to tweet, as if sitting at a desk. But they are driving a car” said Deborah Hersman, chairwoman of NTSB, who added It’s going to be very unpopular with some people. “We’re not here to win a popularity contest. We’re here to do the right thing. This is a difficult recommendation, but it’s the right recommendation and it’s time.”

Here is an excerpt from the NTSB’s recommendation:

To the 50 states and the District of Columbia:

(1) Ban the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices (other than those designed to support the driving task) for all drivers; (2) use the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration model of high visibility enforcement to support these bans; and (3) implement targeted communication campaigns to inform motorists of the new law and enforcement, and to warn them of the dangers associated with the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices while driving.

To put this recommendation in perspective, I wrote in my blog on Dec. 13th that In Spite of Risks, More Drivers Text than Ever Before that texting while driving increased 50% from 2009 to 2010 according to the newly released annual National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study, and that consumer phone use while driving doesn’t end there. Consumers are also reading and typing email, watching video, playing games, using their GPS maps to navigate, and browsing the Internet.

In fact, in another study released by the Governors Highway Safety Association, 100 drivers were continually observed for a full year. The results found that drivers were distracted between one-quarter and one-half of the time.

Responding to the NTSB’s recommendation, the Wireless Association (CTIA)  issued a statement saying it agrees that distracted driving is a dangerous problem  and the group supports a ban on “manual texting” while driving, but would defer to state and local lawmakers when it comes to talking on wireless devices while driving.

Would it kill you to put down that cell phone while driving? No…. But failing to put it down just might.


In Spite of Risks, More Drivers Text than Ever Before

December 13, 2011

Texting while driving increased 50% from 2009 to 2010 according to the newly released annual National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study. That’s in spite of legislation in 35 states that restrict or ban cell phone use while driving.

And our phone use doesn’t stop there. Consumers are also reading and typing email, watching video, playing games, using their GPS maps to navigate, and browsing the Internet.

Our increased cell phone use comes on top of the non-technology related array of distractions like eating and drinking, smoking, personal grooming, reading, fiddling with the radio or CD’s, and talking to passengers and the stats aren’t pretty.

In a study released by the Governors Highway Safety Association, 100 drivers were continually observed for a full year. The results found that drivers were distracted between one-quarter and one-half of the time. How is distracted driving defined? The study breaks down four types of driver distraction:

  • Visual – looking at something other than the road
  • Auditory – hearing something not related to driving
  • Manual – manipulating something other than the wheel
  • Cognitive – thinking about something other than driving

Now add winter road conditions and general holiday mayhem, and the risks of multitasking while driving – or being hit by someone who is multitasking while driving are likely to be sharply increased.

Play it safe this winter.

Learn more about cell phone risks when driving in these blogs:


It’s not Just British Tabloids; Cell &Email Snooping is Increasing

August 3, 2011

The phone hacking scandal that’s rocked Britain, shut down the 168-year-old News of the World tabloid, led to the resignation of high ranking British police officials and Downing Street’s communications director, and put Rupert Murdoch in the hot-seat is but one symptom of an overall increase in cell and email snooping.

While the British scandal centers around the hacking of a murdered schoolgirl’s phone, and the subsequent hacking of phones belonging to rich and famous people, relatives of slain servicemen killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and possibly the families of British victims of the 9/11 attacks, most cell phone and email hacking is much more mundane.

According to a July 2011 Retrevo Gadgetology Report, snooping by romantic partners via email and cell phone is on the rise. – And they didn’t survey those who are snooping on ex’s.

Among their findings:

  • Overall, 33% of respondents said they had checked the email or call history of someone they were dating without them knowing in 2011, up 43% from 23% in 2010.
  • 47% of respondents younger than 25 have snooped, up 24% over 2010.
  • 41% of women admit to having checked the email/call history of a romantic partner or spouse, 28% higher than the 32% of men who have done so.
  • 32% of overall respondents say they would secretly track a spouse/partner using an electronic device if they suspected wrongdoing. This includes 33% of women and 31% of men, giving women a 6% edge.
  • 59% of overall parents say they would secretly track a child using an electronic device if they suspected wrongdoing. This includes 64% of mothers and 53% of fathers, making women 21% more likely to snoop on a child.
  • Slightly more married couples snoop on their spouses (37%).
  • The number of parents snooping is highest among parents of teenagers, with 60% snooping on their kids and possibly for good reason, as 14% of those parents reported finding something they were concerned about.
  • Overall, adults are 84% more likely to secretly track a child than a spouse/partner. This differential is 94% for women and 71% for men.
  • 34% of parents of children age 13-19 have used Facebook to learn more about the parents of their children’s friends. This makes parents of teens the most likely of all parents of children younger than 20 to snoop on Facebook in this way, followed by parents of children age 6-12 (29%) and children age 0-5 (25%).

­­­­9 Steps to avoid becoming a phone or email hacking victim

A few basic precautions can significantly reduce the chances your phone or email will be hacked by friends or romantic partners, ex-friends or -romantic partners, students, teachers, parents, children, or others you know.

  1. PIN/password protect your cell phone and email.  Strong, unique, PIN numbers and passwords are a must.  Choosing ‘password’ or something else obvious doesn’t cut it. The same goes for PIN numbers. You must change your phone’s default PIN number to something unique. Choosing easy to guess numbers like your birthdate or ‘1234’ is asking for trouble.
    1. Once you have created safe logins don’t tell anyone what they are and change them periodically.
  2. Be consistent about locking your phone and email accounts. All the passwords in the world are useless if you leave your account/phone unlocked and unattended. Make a habit of locking accounts whenever you are not in control of the device – whether it’s your phone or your computer.
  3. Do not use any automatic sign-in functionality or password reminder tools on shared computers.  If you do, everyone who shares the computer may have full access to your accounts.  XXXXXX Similarly, many phone services allow you to call your own voicemail without having to enter your PIN if you call from your own phone number. While this is convenient for you, it’s even more convenient for someone else who wants to hear your voice messages.  The problem is that your voicemail isn’t actually checking to see if the call came from your phone, it just checks to see if it came from your phone number which is very easy to spoof or fake.  All someone has to do is use a service like SpoofCard that allows a user to make their number appear to be whatever number they want it to be – like yours. Then they dial ‘their’ number to hear your messages.  By the way, SpoofCard now allows you to spoof SMS’s as well. Just imagine how much additional damage this can cause in the hands of a bully, stalker, or other freak with malicious intent.  To best protect yourself, skip the convenience of automatically retrieving your voice messages, and set your voicemail to require your PIN to keep would-be snoopers at bay.
  4. Use strong, up-to-date security products on your cell phone and computers. All it takes to learn everything on your device is one little piece of malware – and there are only two things between you and an infection: 1) Strong security software, and 2) your ability to spot fraud.
    1. Strong security software: Most professional hackers collect passwords using malware that has been installed on your computer or mobile phone, and savvier snoopers can do the same. Be sure your anti-virus and anti-malware programs are up to date.  Also be sure that any operating system updates are installed. See my blog Are You a Malware Magnet? 4 simple steps can make all the difference and Malware reaches New Highs, Spam Dips; Mobile Malware New Frontier.
    2. Your ability to spot fraud: Spam and scams come at us from all angles; in the mailbox in front of your home (junk mail) in your email inbox, via IM, social networking sites, chats, forums, websites, and sadly, now also on your phone. Learn these  14 Steps to Avoiding Scams, and practice on some of the examples (scroll further down the webpage) to see how well you can avoid the common consumer pitfalls scammers want you to stumble over.
  5. Avoid logging into accounts when using public wireless networks – you don’t know if these are safe or compromised. See my blog Like Lambs to the Slaughter? Firesheep Lets Anyone be a Hacker. Since many smartphone users use free WiFi hotspots to access data (and keep their phone plan costs down) smartphones are also more susceptible when leveraging public networks.
  6. Validate the legitimacy of any program/game/app before downloading it.  See my blogs Windows Getting Safer, but Study Finds that 1 of Every 14 Programs Downloaded is Later Confirmed as Malware and More Mobile Apps Caught Inappropriately Collecting User Info and Installing Malware.
  7. Check your computer and phone for monitoring tools. Family safety tools are designed to help parents protect their children, but all too often these tools are used to monitor spouses, friends, ex’s, etc. To know if you are being monitored – and all your interactions recorded and reported – you’ll need to check for monitoring tools. Online Tech Tips has an article titled How to detect computer & email monitoring or spying software that can be quite helpful.
  8. On phones, consider who sees your monthly statement. If family members have access to your statements, they can see who you called (phone number look up), who called you, and the times of day these occurred. This is also true of your text messages. If this is more information that you want snooped through, get your own plan and don’t leave your statements lying around.
  9. Don’t use location tools that track and broadcast your location.  There are two types of location tools, those that you can ping to get information like driving directions, and those that track your location to broadcast to others. If you don’t want to be snooped, tracked or stalked, don’t use a tool that can track you.

Applying these precautions to your mobile and email usage will not guarantee that you aren’t snooped or hacked, but they will go a long way towards protecting you from the snoops in your life.  If nearly half (47%) of the under-20 crowd are snooping, the non-snooping half had better start defending.


Talking and Browsing on Phones is Blasé Users Spend More Time on Apps

March 18, 2011

One of the interesting news pieces coming out of last month’s Mobile World Congress was new data from mobile research firm Zokem that shows mobile phone users now spend far more time using applications on their phones than actually talking. When application use is looked at as a whole – combining messaging and other applications – the app usage is now two-and-a-half times greater than voice usage.

Average Minutes of Screen time by type – January 2011
Messaging (email, text, multimedia, and IM) 671 minutes
Apps (maps, gaming, entertainment, productivity, and social networking) 667 minutes
Voice 531 minutes
Browsing the Web 422 minutes

This finding provides further evidence that mobile users – particularly younger users – view of phones has shifted to the point that they now   consider the device in their pocket to be more of a computer than the single-purpose device.

How quickly technology and our expectations change.  It is just over 30 years ago that Bill Gates shared his vision of a computer on every desktop and in every home. My own first PC back in 1980 was a screamingly fast monster with 64K (yes, K) of memory that we didn’t think there would ever be enough data to fill.  I was thrilled with the freedom from typewriters and the new world where you could edit text, shift paragraphs and actually save documents.

And it’s just over 16 years ago that the first commercial phone with paging and voice capabilities were ready for mainstream consumers.  For any of you who had a phone back then, you’ll remember we had to pull out the antennae in order to get a signal, and while those phones were a generation better than the ‘brick’ phones, they were still huge and required a carrying case on your belt.  It wasn’t until 1999 that the mobile web was introduced on phones, and it took until 2000 to get rid of that darn external antenna.  Jump forward to 2003 when the first camera phones really hit the U.S. market (japan had them in 2001), browsing actually began to be interesting, and the U.S. finally realized the handiness of text messaging.  Another hop forward to 2007 brought the first iPhone, and since then applications have been sprouting like mushrooms after a rain.

What new mobile capabilities mean to you and your kids

First and foremost, the new phone functionality means a better mobile experience. It also means more power in your hand, more responsibility to use the device appropriately, and a greater need to protect the phone and the information on the phone.

How do you learn more about teaching kids to use mobile phones safely and in a socially responsible way? I’ve got just the information you need… Check out these blogs:


Average US Teen Sends or Receives 3,339 Texts a month

October 24, 2010

If you think your teen is spending more time texting, you’re right. The average US teen (13-17 years old) now sends or receives 3,339 texts a month according to new research by The Nielsen Company. That represents an 8% increase over last year.

While texting increased in all age groups year over year, teens continue to text more than all other age groups combined.

It will come as no surprise that gender plays a role in the number of text messages sent. Teen girls top the texting chart with an average of 4,050 texts per month, vs. their male counter parts who average 2,539 texts.

Texting now biggest reason teens get a phone

Texting has surpassed safety (which held top spot in 2008) as the primary reason teens get a phone, while keeping touch with friends has dropped into third place.

With the increase in teen texting, voice usage has dropped by 14%. While in previous years texting was considered fun, now 78% of teens find it more functional and convenient; including 22% who find it easier, and 20% who find it faster than talking.

That isn’t to say teens have quit talking, girls average about 753 minutes of gab time a month, while guys use around 525 minutes.

Data and application use increasingly important

A whopping 94% of teens self-identify as advanced data users of messaging, internet, multimedia, gaming, downloading and other activities. Though teen usage is still less than that of young adults, their data usage has increased dramatically; male teens usage jumped from 17MB to 75MB, and their female counterparts jumped from 11MB to 53MB in the last year.

Key drivers of the data consumption increase are advanced smartphones with large screens designed for better data consumption, and the broader range of applications teens are now downloading, including Facebook, Pandora and YouTube. Downloading video, for example, is a particularly heavy data hog.

Increased data consumption signals greater need to help manage and monitor youth’s mobile experience

If you haven’t already adopted mobile safeguards for your family’s phones, it may be time for you to do so.

While mobile malware is still in its infancy, security vendors have seen a huge uptick in mobile attacks since late last year.

While many people have been predicting mobile malware for a while, “this might actually, finally, be the year,” said Tim Armstrong, a malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab, during a meeting of the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group earlier this month. Noting that his company identified more than 1,550 mobile malware signatures in September, Armstrong said, “it’s only a matter of time before we see some really huge malware infections.”

Along with increased security, consider what mobile family safety protections you may need (often referred to as parental controls). Several family safety companies are ramping up their mobile services to meet youth’s needs for protection against malicious users, and to filter content that’s inappropriate for minors.

Highlighting the expansion of mobile content categories like user generated content, mobile TV, adult content and gambling, I refer to new data from Juniper Research in my blog Mobile Revenues in North America Projected to Jump to $10 Billion by 2015.

What this may mean to your phone bill

In the face of dramatically increasing data use, carriers are feeling the pinch.

Several carriers have switched, or are considering dumping their all-you-can-eat data plans in favor of requiring consumers to pay by data volume in a tiered pricing structure.

AT&T, which has seen data usage skyrocket with the roll-out of the iPhone, stopped offering new customers unlimited plans back in June. Verizon Wireless, who reports say will begin offering an iPhone early next year, announced in September that they would switch to tiered data plans in 4-6 months.

Sprint appears to be headed in the same direction, as Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said in comments to the press last month, “We can offer unlimited as long as the usage is reasonable. If you run an all-you-can-eat buffet, but you have the New England Patriots come in and the whole team spends a whole day there, I can’t afford to do that anymore.”

While the change from unlimited pricing plans to tiered pricing will save most consumers money, at least from the outset, consumers who are heavy data users may need to either scale back their activities, or get ready to pay more.

This shifting payment structure will unquestionably impact the burgeoning consumer mobile application businesses. Mobile developers experienced a virtual gold rush in the all-you-can-eat environment where consumers could wantonly download their wares without concern for their phone bill. The iPhone store alone offers over 200,000 applications for a phone first launched 4 years ago. Expect the pace of development to slow, or even shrink, as consumers on tiered pricing plans think about the potential impact to their phone bill.

If you’re a parent of a data hungry teen, hold onto that checkbook.


Games Most Popular, but Social Networking Fastest Growing Mobile App

June 8, 2010

Two new research studies by The Nielsen Company and comScore outline the growth in mobile application usage.

Games rank first among popular cell phone applications in the US among both Smartphone and feature phone users, according to “App Playbook” data from The Nielsen Company.

Music ranks second, with nearly an equal number of Smartphone and feature phone users.

Mobile networking ranks third, but it is the fastest growing category.

Between April 2009 and April 2010, the number of mobile phone users who accessed a social networking application showed a growth of 240% – the number of users increased from 4.3 million to 14.5 million. according to comScore MobiLens data.

While several other categories also saw triple digit growth (news, sports info, bank accounts and weather) the potential risks of mobile social networking, and mobile photo/video sharing (which saw a 93% increase) are unique.

The advice about maintaining privacy and avoiding over-sharing needs to be amplified when talking about networking on mobile devices as phones intrinsic nature sets the stage for instant sharing – even when a little more thought would lead to better discretion.

With several phone services offering instant upload of almost all your content, keeping your reputation in mind will be of paramount importance.