96 percent of South Korean teens own smartphones

More than 95 percent of secondary school students have smartphones, and they use the devices for more than two hours a day, a report showed.

According to the report by the state-run Korea Information Society Development Institute, 95.9 percent of middle school students and 95.2 percent of high school students owned smartphones as of 2018.

Figures were up from 2015’s 86.6 percent for middle schoolers and 90.2 percent for high schoolers.

They were also higher than the average smartphone penetration rate of all age groups, 87.2 percent.

For elementary schoolchildren, the smartphone penetration rate was 37.8 percent for first to third graders, and 81.2 percent for fourth to sixth graders ― also up from 2015’s 25.5 percent and 59.3 percent, respectively.

By the time of use, middle schoolers spent the largest time with the gadgets, 144 minutes per day, followed by high schoolers’ 135 minutes. They spent more time on their phones than the average of all age groups, 113 minutes.

The report found the time of children’s smartphone use more than doubles when they get to fourth to sixth grades at elementary school: First to third graders used smartphones for 45 minutes a day, while fourth to sixth graders spent 105 minutes on their phones.

“Fourth to sixth grade is the time when children’s dependence on smartphone increases, so guidelines from both parents and school on proper use of the device are required,” the report said.

Among those who own smartphones, almost all high school students, or 98.9 percent, said they use mobile messenger apps such as KakaoTalk. The ratio was also high among middle schoolers, 94.5 percent, while that for fourth to sixth grade elementary schoolers was 88.8 percent, and first to third graders, 76.8 percent.

For the most frequently used apps, elementary schoolchildren picked games, messenger apps and video platforms, while middle school students enjoyed games, messenger apps and webtoons, and high schoolers, messenger apps, games and social media.

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