Teens and mobile phones: A match made in heaven?

Teens and mobile phones: A match made in heaven?

Over the past few weeks I was involved with a research study in Cape Town that investigated the use of mobile phones by learners aged 13 -18. The full paper will be presented at a conference later this year but below are some findings that will be useful to those working for organisations who are trying to reach young people via mobile phones.
We distributed 420 questionnaires at high schools in Cape Town and 358 was returned. Most of the respondents (57%) were female and 93% owned a mobile phone. Only 3 of the youth had NO personal ACCESS to a mobile phone and all of them were aged 13. The mobile network most popular with youth was MTN (38%) followed by Vodacom (34%) (See image above).

airtimegraph Most of the youth (75%) use R70 airtime or less, explaining the popularity of Mobile Instant Messengers (MIMs) like MXit, Mig33, 2Go and others (See image on the left). The most popular mobile handset was Samsung (45%) followed by Nokia (21%) and then Sony Ericsson (10%) (Graph below). None of the youth in our sample owned an iPhone or Android device. This is important for any developers and organisations targeting youth with services via mobile phones to realise the handsets and that most of their target audience are using.

Only 7% (19) of the youth interviewed does not use the mobile internet with majority using it would do so on a daily basis, whereas 27% will use it over weekends (See diagram below). This supports the fact the more people in South Africa access the internet via a mobile phone than via a PC. All the youth who have access to a mobile phone have used a Mobile Chat or Mobile Instant Messenger (MIM), such as MXit.
The uptake of social networking amongst youth is evident with 27% of using social networking sites such as Facebook all the time. In the above diagram it is evident how the Mobile web and Mobile social networks graph lines are very similar supporting the increase adoption of mobile web for connecting with friends and families. The most frequently (“All the time”) used mobile phone service was Multimedia and the Mobile web was the most popular service to be used over weekends. The most popular mobi sites visited by the youth were m.facebook.com and m.google.com. Mobile web and technology offers great opportunities for youth and with the increased adoption of these technologies it is therefore an opportunity for organisations to access this market using these mediums.


9 Replies to “Teens and mobile phones: A match made in heaven?”

  1. Thanks for the insights!

    Do you happen to know what are the differences to other African countries – is there a bigger study of this somewhere? I work in an ICT support project and going to Tanzania in the end of this month. Would be nice to hear where it stands in all of this.

  2. Hi Marko. I am not aware of a bigger study as yet, but I do have some colleagues in the process of doing a much larger study accross African countries. Would keep you updated if I here more about this. Thanks for the comment. Best Wishes

  3. Hi Laura. The learners came from peri-urban schools. More information about the study will be in the paper and I will share it once it becomes available. Thanks for comment 🙂

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