Ina Fried

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Nielsen: Young People Across The Globe Love Their Cell Phones (But Use Them Differently)

A new Nielsen report finds that young people around the world are the biggest adopters of mobile technology, though how they do so tends to vary by both location and gender.

According to the report, China is the biggest spot for the mobile Internet, with 73 percent of Chinese youths age 15 to 24 citing mobile Internet usage as among the things they used their cell phones for in the past month. By comparison, less than half of American and British cell-phone toting youths used the Internet from their mobile devices, while the rest of Europe had rates less than 25 percent.

Mobile messaging is also big, though in most parts of the world young women are far more likely than young men to send text and picture messages. There were some exceptions, such as India, where men were twice as likely as women to send texts and four times more likely to send pictures.

The Nielsen research was conducted in 19 countries, though the report broke out results only for the U.S., UK, India, Italy, Brazil, China, Spain, Russia and Germany. In most countries Nielsen surveyed 5,000 young people, though in the U.S. it surveyed 75,000 youths. In some countries the research was done face-to-face and in others the survey was done online.

In most countries across the globe, young men are more likely than women to have smartphones, though the U.S. is an exception with young women making up 55 percent of smartphone owners between 15 and 24. The adoption of smartphones versus feature phones also varies widely. In India, for example, feature phones outnumber smartphones 9 to 1 among young people, while in Italy smartphone adoption is nearing 50 percent among the younger set.

Advanced data usage was highest in the U.S and China, where about 17 in 20 young people did more than just make calls and send text and picture messages. That type of data use was least common in India, where only 13 percent did so, However, another 51 percent of Indian youths used their phones for text and/or picture messages.

The Nielsen study also looked at other patterns including use of more than one SIM card and whether phones are prepaid or postpaid, although those trends seemed to have more to do with how the country’s cell phone industry is set up as opposed to indicative of trends among youth.

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