For Teens, Mobile Search Doesn’t Register Yet

We have all observed teens in their native habitats — one hand glued to junk food while the other is attached to a mobile phone. Mobile phones have become their lifelines, by helping them to stay connected, providing a source of entertainment and enabling them to multitask.

One activity they aren’t using their phones for much is searching. Some do want to find their way, with 16% currently using GPS and 14% coveting this feature. Yet, despite all the great benefits associated with geo-location, teens don’t view local search, directories or shopping aids as being a high priority for them.

According to OTX Research, nearly three-quarters of teens sent text messages or used wallpapers, while more than half took digital photos, played games, sent photos, downloaded ringtones, or IM’d each other. When asked what features they most wanted, nearly half said texting — with everything else paling in comparison.

On the upside, teens do surf content that requires search tools. Currently, around 30% view websites and 22% download videos on their phones. As with other devices, they seek music videos, user-generated clips, TV shows and movies. (These kids don’t care about news, with only 12% reporting they view news clips.)

Given the intensity of teen phone use, it’s easy to conclude that there should be more effort placed on search functionality and its ease-of-use. With limited screen size, there are surely better ways to highlight video or site results. As scrolling through multiple results is untenable, the relevance of top results increases significantly too. Let’s get to it.

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