Smartphone ownership becomes near-universal


Boraan Abdulkarim

Sophomores Ali Duval, Emily Schoonover, Phoebe Pannier, and Andrew Michel gather in the Summit Center around their devices. According to a 2012 poll, 43% of people are likely to own a smartphone.

Lillian Pettigrew, Staff Writer

It’s after school. Students sit in the Summit Center, stand on the sidewalk waiting for buses, or pile on the benches outside Briggs Gymnasium hanging out with friends. Take a brief glance at the people. Make a quick count of how many phones you see—those in hands or back pockets. How many are there?

In most situations, the majority of students are engaged on their devices, or certainly have them close at hand. So what does this mean? How has this generation become so dependent on these little rectangles of metal and plastic?
“[Technology] is not good or bad, it’s just part of how things are. As technology is getting better, it’s more accessible,”  freshman Ezra Cohen said.

Many students, even if they have not had it happen to them, can understand why peer pressure influences others to buy the latest technology. Junior Tommy Monserud said even in middle school he noticed that “all the popular kids [had] really expensive phones.” Monserud himself said that he has no interest in owning a smartphone.

New technology is definitely more accessible and more widely used. In 1985, only .0015 percent of U.S. adults had a mobile device. By 2010, 94 percent of adults did. In 2013, a Family Online Safety Institute study showed that 64 percent of teens had access to a smartphone.

That was almost two years ago. Given the constant stream of new technology and customers — for example, the record-breaking sales of the new iPhone 6, of which over 10 million were sold in the single weekend after its release—one can be sure that those numbers must have grown.

Income of families also has an effect on the percentage of teens with phones. A 2012 poll conducted by Statista shows that teens whose parents make more than $75,000 a year are more likely to have a cellphone (86 percent had one) and more likely to own a smartphone (43 percent). The average income of a U.S. adult is about $53,000. The same study shows that children of those parents are 5% percent less likely to have a cell or smartphone. Could the income of SPA families be contributing to the increased phone ownership in students?

A poll of 30 SPA students grades 9-12 showed that about 96 percent of students own cellphones, and nearly 80 percent have smartphones. These numbers are certainly believable to anyone in the SPA community, but are much larger than nationwide percentages.

Students reported that phones are used primarily for texting and making phone calls, but for those with smartphones, games and social media are equally as popular. SPA’s cell phone policy is fairly casual — although students are asked to have their devices off or silent during class, many admit that they check messages or social media, or occasionally play their favorite game during a lesson.

Whatever the reason, the vast majority of SPA students have and use smartphones. And one can be sure that the percentages will only keep growing as new technology surfaces, then is outstripped by a different device, then is updated and goes on sale again, to be taken home by millions of teens.