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Future Internet 2011, 3(2), 144-158;

Mobile Phones Bridging the Digital Divide for Teens in the US?

Department of Communication Studies, The University of Michigan, 105 South State Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
IT University of Copenhagen, Rued Lanngaarde Vej 7, 2300 Copenhagen, Denmark
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 11 February 2011 / Revised: 17 March 2011 / Accepted: 3 May 2011 / Published: 13 May 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Transformations from the Mobile Internet)
Full-Text   |   PDF [308 KB, uploaded 13 May 2011]


In 2009, just 27% of American teens with mobile phones reported using their devices to access the internet. However, teens from lower income families and minority teens were significantly more likely to use their phones to go online. Together, these surprising trends suggest a potential narrowing of the digital divide, offering internet access to those without other means of going online. This is an important move, as, in today’s society, internet access is central to active citizenship in general and teen citizenship in particular. Yet the cost of this move toward equal access is absorbed by those who can least afford it: Teenagers from low income households. Using survey and focus group data from a national study of “Teens and Mobile Phone Use” (released by Pew and the University of Michigan in 2010), this article helps identify and explain this and other emergent trends for teen use (as well as non-use) of the internet through mobile phones. View Full-Text
Keywords: digital divide; internet; mobile phone; cell phone; teens; texting digital divide; internet; mobile phone; cell phone; teens; texting
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Brown, K.; Campbell, S.W.; Ling, R. Mobile Phones Bridging the Digital Divide for Teens in the US? Future Internet 2011, 3, 144-158.

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