When times are tough, everyone reins in spending. But for low-income youth, the ubiquitous smart phone is not part of the cost-cutting equation.
A study by Nielsen of more than 20,000 U.S. mobile customers found that smartphone penetration among young people in the lowest income bracket is higher than it is among older people in the wealthiest grouping.
“It’s a lifeline, especially for people in poverty, says Lori Gama, a tech, mobile and social expert. “When you get a smartphone, it’s a lifeline to the world.”
The study confirms a 2011 finding by the Pew Internet and American Life Project which found that youth as well as Latinos are the heaviest smartphone users.
“The smartphone is an extension of my teenager,” says Gama. “He’s 16-years-old, it’s a part of him. If he could add it to his arm, he would.”
Gama says the versatility of the smartphone makes it the choice for savvy youth.
“The access it gives people, it breaks down barriers of not having Internet access in inner cities or rural areas,” she says. “You can also ask a question if your baby is sick. The possible solutions or which doctors are in the area. It can help with life and death decisions and that’s without getting into uses for business or pleasure.”
Gama believes the smartphone is the great equalizer.
“There is no excuse for being dumb or ignorant about anything with information literally at our fingertips.”
ADRIAN CARRASQUILLO, NBC LATINO STAFF
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