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U.S. Mobile Market Dialing Into Tween Population
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U.S. Mobile Market Dialing Into Tween Population

They don’t have expense accounts — or even their own income, but tweens (ages 8 to 12) are perhaps the hottest new target for U.S. cell phone operators, CNET and Forbes reported Wednesday.

Both stories noted that 46% of U.S. tweens use cellphones, but only 26% own them, according to Nielsen Mobile.

Instead, tweens are more likely to borrow their parents’ phones — when they go out with friends or take short trips.  The borrowing typically starts at age eight-and-a-half; by age 10 or 11, many tweens have their own phones, according to Nielsen.

Nearly all parents (92%) say they restrict their tweens’ phone usage in some way, and 68% prohibit their tweens from downloading content that incurs charges, according to Nielsen.

Still, tweens manage to use their phone for more than just talking.  About 55% of tweens who own cell phones send text messages, and 21% download ringtones.

Those are exactly the kinds of trends that interest cell phone operators.

“Our clients want to understand tweens’ attitudes and mobile behavior in the context of their daily life and media consumption,” Richard Wood, vice president, Nielsen Mobile, told CNET.