R&D N 7/2000
Norwegian teens, mobile telephony and
SMS use in school
Title R&D Notat 7/2000
ISSN 0809- 1021 Norwegian teens, mobile telephony and
SMS use in school Project no MUMK01/AZF500
Security gr. Åpen
No. of pages 8
Mobile telephony, Youth, SMS
The analysis presented here examines the use of mobile telephones among Norwegian teens. It is based on the survey
of 1006 teens who were between 13 and 20 years old. It was carried out in November of 1999. There were several interesting things that arose from that material including the continued adoption of the mobile telephone by younger teens, the erasure of the gender difference when considering ownership of the mobile telephone and the presence of
SMS in various social contexts. The data shows that two-thirds of teens in Norway have a mobile telephone. It also Mobile telephony, S;S youth shows that, for the first time, girls and boys consume the device at the same levels, that is an equal percentages of
each gender have access to a mobile telephone. Finally, the material indicates that a preponderance of all teen-aged mobile telephone owners have used the device in school for the sending and receiving of text messages. These re-
sults are documented and examined in this report.
? Telenor AS 15.02.00
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1 Introduction and method ........................................................................................ 1 2 Analysis of the material .......................................................................................... 3 2.1 Ownership and access to mobile telephones ............................................................ 3
2.2 The use of SMS ...................................................................................................... 5
2.3 The use of SMS in school ....................................................................................... 6
3 Discussion and summary ........................................................................................ 7
1 Introduction and method
This paper is an analysis of the consumption and use of mobile telephones among 1teens in Norway. In addition, it examines the use of short messages system (SMS)
communication for teens both on a general basis and within the context of school. This analysis is a continuation of the analyses of teen mobile telephone use that have been carried out by Telenor FoU since 1997. These analyses have included both qualitative and quantitative approaches and have attempted to examine the adoption of the technology among adolescents. We have been fortunate to follow along with the general penetration of this technology from early in its adoption cycle to the cur-rent situation wherein the preponderance of teens own and use a mobile telephone. In broad strokes the material here indicates that the mobile telephone has been adopted by ever-higher numbers of teens in Norway. In some age groups there pene-tration is nearly complete. It may well be that only those teens that have a strong ideological opposition to the device do not own one. Further, this data may suggest that the mobile telephone is becoming more of a personal item and not an item that is used communally by various members of the household.
In addition, the data here shows that, for the first time, girls and boys consume the device at the same levels, that is an equal percentages of each gender have access to a mobile telephone. Since the material here is based on a simple survey carried out in November of 1999, we were unable to explore different types of use between the genders. Other material, however, indicates that the mobile telephone has a different position in the lives of the two groups. None-the-less, it is important to note that girls have come up to par with boys when one examines ownership of the mobile telephone.
Looking at the information from a slightly different perspective, there are clear age based differences in the data. Where the mobile telephone is almost ubiquitous among the 18 to 20 year-olds, it is less so among the youngest teens. This is not to say that the 13-year-olds do not own mobile telephones. On the contrary, the data here indicates that as many as 60% of the teens in this age group are mobile tele-phone owners. There is a rather large increase in the number of teens who own a mobile telephone as one moves from the 13 to the 15-year-olds.
Another trend made obvious in the data is that SMS has arrived on the scene. It is used in many situations and in many ways. The material here indicates that about half of teens with access to a mobile telephone are regular users of SMS. The ma-terial also indicates that there are about four messages sent and a similar number that are received by these active users per day. The use, however is not only carried out during free time. The material here indicates that there are a significant number of teens that send and receive SMS messages during class time in school. The report will take the reader through a short discussion of the methods used and follow this with an analysis of the results and a discussion of the material. The approach used to gather the information was the simple polling of respondents over the telephone. A short questionnaire was developed for use in this analysis. The questionnaire contained several questions that had been used in earlier studies.
1 As suggested by its name, SMS is a system for sending and receiving shore text messages via use of a GSM telephone. The messages are limited to only 160 characters. Teens have adopted this form of communication that allows them to economize their use of the mobile telephone. At the time of the survey the messages cost about 1,5 NKr. (or ca. 0,20 ?) to send.
In this way we were assured comparability with previous work and hence the ability to examine the development of trends in the data.
2During the last week of November 1999 slightly more than 1000 Norwegian teens
(13 to 20 years of age) were polled regarding their use of mobile telephony and the SMS. It is the data from this survey that forms the basis of this analysis. The completed database was cleaned and examined using standard statistical analys-es.
2 Statistics from Statistics Norway show that there are about 540,000 persons in this age category.
2 Analysis of the material
2.1 Ownership and access to mobile telephones
Turning first to ownership, the data shows that about two thirds of the teens "owned"
a mobile telephone. We place the word owned in quotes since it is sometimes the
case that the individual had a telephone that was previously used by their parents or
had a telephone on a type of perma-
nent loan. In order to deal with these 1998 1999 vagaries we asked the respondents if
Own 34,26 66,30 they owned or had the exclusive use 3of a mobile telephone. Further, we Can loan regularly 9,45 5,07
asked those respondents who did not Can loan on occasion 21,64 8,05 own or permanently dispose of a mo-No access 34,63 20,58 bile telephone if they were able to
loan a mobile telephone on a regular Table 1 Access to mobile telephones by teens, n = basis or, if they were able to loan one 3020
on an occasional basis. In Table 1, the reader sees the results of this analysis when compared to earlier sur-
veys of teen mobile telephone ownership in Norway. The table shows that the
present of teens that own has risen dramatically from the previous year. Where about
one third of the teens asked in 1998 said that they owned a mobile telephone, the
1999 data shows that about twice as many said the same. The numbers are not as
dramatic as they may first appear; however, when one sees that the percent of teens
that can loan a mobile telephone on either a regular or a semi-regular basis has ta-
pered off. The percent of those who can regularly loan a mobile telephone has be
roughly halved and the percent of those who can loan on an occasional basis has
been more than halved.
The table also shows that there has also been a reduction in the percent of non-
owners. However, those who do not have access to a mobile telephone has dropped
less than for the two “loaning”
1998 1999 categories. Thus, the increase in
ownership has been, to a large Age Access No access Access No access
degree, counterweighted by a 13 39,76 60,24 60,42 39,58 reduction in the loaning of the
14 53,44 46,56 71,92 28,08 mobile telephone. The non-
owners seem to be cooking down 15 61,26 38,74 81,38 18,62
to a core of persons that do not 16 68,65 31,35 86,01 13,99 want a mobile telephone for one
17 70,75 29,25 80,92 19,08 or another reason.
18 71,94 28,06 85,90 14,10 Table 2 is a comparison of the
19 75,69 24,31 88,10 11,90 total number of teens with some
form of access to the mobile tele-20 80,32 19,68 91,23 8,77
phone in 1998 and 1999 by the Table 2 Percent of teens with and without access to age of the respondent. Thus, for mobile telephones by age for 1998 and 1999, n the purposes of this table we = 3020 summed into one group those
who own, those who can borrow
3 For the purposes of this paper this category will be called owners.
on a regular basis and those who can loan a mobile telephone occasionally. The ta-
ble shows that where in 1998 about 40% of 13 year olds had access to a mobile tele-
phone this had risen by about 20% in 1999. In addition, where 80% of the 20-year-
olds had access to a mobile telephone this had crept up amount 10% to over 90% in
1999. Above all, one is
struck with the parallels be-Age Own Loan reg. Can loan No tween the two years. The
13 38,89 4,17 17,36 39,58 profiles of the curves are
quite similar for both years. 14 54,11 4,11 13,70 28,08
The major difference is that 15 68,28 4,83 8,28 18,62 the data for 1999 has shifted
16 75,52 4,90 5,59 13,99 up 10 - 20% in relation to the
previous year. The data 17 72,52 5,34 3,05 19,08
shows that the mobile tele-18 73,08 7,05 5,77 14,10 phone is being adopted by 19 82,14 3,57 2,38 11,90 younger teens.
20 82,46 7,02 1,75 8,77 Table 3 provides a slightly
more detailed picture of this Table 3 Access to mobile telephones by age for Norway,
1999, n = 1006 situation. In this table the
ownership/borrowing res-ponses of the respondents is seen according to their age. The figure shows that
among the youngest age group that about 40% of the respondents, owned a mobile
telephone and an equal number did not. These two categories diverged dramatically
for the 14 - 17 year old age groups. By the time, that one arrives at the 17-year-old
group the reader can see that a plateau of ownership has been reached. For those
respondents over the age of 15, the adoption rate ranges roughly between 70 and
The other part of the picture here is that the loaning
behavior becomes less and less common as one Age Boys Girls
moves from the youngest to the oldest interviewees. 13 35,14 42,86 It seems that the ability to regularly loan the mobile
14 58,67 49,30 telephone of another never rises much over seven
percent of the individuals. The percent of individ-15 64,00 72,86
uals who can loan a mobile telephone on an occa-16 72,60 78,57 sional basis has a slightly different profile. This is 17 67,16 78,13 highest among the youngest group but falls below
18 77,50 68,42 the 10% level among the 15-year-olds.
19 81,08 82,98 While one of the main findings of the analysis is
that ever-higher numbers of teens are adopting the 20 88,00 78,13
mobile telephone, the other major finding is that Table 4 Ownership of mobile there is no longer a difference between the genders. telephones by gender and In the previous discussion we pointed out that in age in Norway, 1999, n = previous work we have found that girls were more 667
likely to loan a mobile telephone. This trend has
fallen off and we can see in Table 4 that regardless
of age, one is not able to point to any major ownership differences between the gend-