The iPhone Dominance
According to a recent article from the Wall Street Journal, America’s teens hate Android phones. The article cites a survey of 7,100 American teens last year conducted by investment bank Piper Sandler, which found that 87% of teens currently have an iPhone, and 87% plan on sticking with the brand for their next phone. The article also features interviews with teens and former teachers who confirm the social stigma associated with Android phones among young people.
One of the reasons for the iPhone’s popularity is its exclusive messaging platform, iMessage, which allows users to send texts, photos, videos, and emojis in a seamless way. iMessage also distinguishes messages sent between Apple devices from those sent to or from Android devices by using different colors: blue for Apple-to-Apple, and green for Apple-to-Android. This seemingly trivial feature has become a source of mockery and exclusion for Android users, who are often labeled as “broke” or “medieval” by their peers.
Another reason for the iPhone’s dominance is its perceived status as a symbol of wealth and fashion. Many teens associate Android phones with older technology and older people, regardless of how new or advanced the phone actually is. Some online creators have made viral videos mocking Android users and praising iPhone users, reinforcing the idea that having an iPhone is cool and having an Android is not.
The Global Perspective
However, the stigma regarding Android phones is mostly an American phenomenon, at least to the degree to which it affects purchase habits. Worldwide, Android phones represent the significant majority of all smartphones, holding a 71% share of sales compared with Apple’s 28%, according to web traffic analysis site Statcounter.
In other countries, such as China, India, Brazil, and Indonesia, Android phones are more affordable and accessible than iPhones, and offer more variety and customization options. Many Android users also prefer the Google ecosystem of apps and services over Apple’s. Moreover, some countries have their own messaging platforms that are not exclusive to any operating system, such as WhatsApp in India or WeChat in China. These factors reduce the social pressure to own an iPhone and allow more diversity in smartphone choices.
The Parental Dilemma
While some parents may feel pressured to buy their kids an iPhone to avoid social isolation or bullying, others may have concerns about the mental health impact of smartphone use in general. A movement called “Wait Until Eighth” encourages parents to wait until at least 8th grade to give kids smartphones. The network is 40,000 families strong and they’ve seen a 25% increase in participation in the last year alone.
The movement is based on research that suggests screen time can have negative effects on kids’ well-being, such as anxiety, depression, behavior problems, academic performance, and sleep quality. However, some studies also point out the positive aspects of smartphone use, such as improving friendships and connection.
Experts agree that if parents allow smartphones, there should be parameters, such as banning smartphones from bedrooms overnight and setting time limits and parental controls. For parents who choose not to allow their kids to have smartphones, experts suggest talking openly to your kids about your concerns, or providing a stripped down phone for calls and texts only.