[ASIA] In a finding that will surprise no one who has strolled a city street or ridden a bus or
train in Japan, a recently released government report reveals that two-thirds of high school
students own a mobile phone.
According to a Management and Coordination Agency (MCA) survey of “youth trends,” 59
percent of Japanese high school juniors — 68 percent of girls and 50 percent of boys — have their
own mobile phone.
And among teens without a mobile phone, two-thirds (67 percent) said they wanted to get one if
they could get their parents’ permission.
The percentage of Japanese teens 16 and older who own a mobile phone is almost certainly well
above 60 percent now, since the MCA survey — although released on December 22, 2000 —
was actually conducted at the end of 1999.
The survey questioned 3,152 high school juniors and 2,901 parents/guardians in six areas of the
nation, including Tokyo.
The students polled had, on average, monthly mobile phone bills of about 6,700 yen (US $58.80)
Nearly 17 percent paid more than 10,000 yen (US $87.75) in mobile phone fees per month, while
2 percent had monthly bills of more than 20,000 (US $175).
One-third (33 percent) of the students said they paid the full cost themselves, while almost another
third (32 percent) said their parents paid their entire bill.
Some reports suggest that teen spending on games and entertainment has dropped because many
are using their allowances/earnings to pay feed their mobile phone habit instead.
The survey found that boys, on average, made six calls per day while girls made five calls daily.
More than one-fifth (22 percent), however, said they talked at least 10 times per day, and 45
percent said they used their mobile phone to send 10 or more e-mail messages each day.
Among the parents survey, 36 percent complained that their sons/daughters spent too much time
on the phone while 23 percent said they were concerned that the mobile phone made it difficult for
them to keep tabs on who their children were communicating with.
The latter may be a valid worry, since 26 percent of the teens said they were carrying on regular
e-mail correspondence with persons they had never met.
Asked what are the main benefits of having a mobile phone, 90 percent of students answered that
it was easier to keep in touch with friends, 70 percent said they could talk freely with their
girlfriend/boyfriend, and 66 percent said they could readily contact or be contacted by family
Respondents were also asked to rate their own academic performance; 68 percent of those who
answered they made poor grades owned a mobile phone, compared with 49 percent of those
who said they were making good grades.