Nearly Half of U.S. Teens Own an iPhone: Piper Jaffray

Tablet ownership also continues to grow, as just over half (51 percent) of teens own a tablet computer, up from 44 percent in fall 2012.

The Apple iPhone appears to be the smartphone of choice among American teenagers, with nearly half (48 percent) of U.S. teens owning the device and 62 percent planning to buy one, according to the findings of a new survey from Piper Jaffray.

The report, which covers numerous topics, including digital media, Web-based shopping, gaming and wireless communication, found mobility and connectedness are driving nearly 91 percent of teens to purchase a smartphone for their next wireless device, with approximately 60 percent biased toward Apple and 21 percent likely to buy a Google Android device, consistent with the company's prior survey cycle.

Tablet ownership also continues to grow, as just over half (51 percent) of teens own a tablet computer, up from 44 percent in the fall of 2012, with 68 percent of teens identifying Apple's iPad as their owned device. Survey results point to teens prioritizing unlimited data plans as the most important service plan feature when choosing a carrier, with Verizon and AT&T identified as having the best networks.

Approximately 79 percent of females and 76 percent of males shop online, and respondents indicated that roughly 18 percent of their spending is online. Nearly 70 percent of teens indicate they prefer to shop the Websites of their favorite store-based retailers. Survey results also indicated the shift toward digital is proliferating in media purchases. Streaming accounts for 46 percent of movie rentals, and online music provider Pandora makes up 22 percent of preferred music sources.

The popularity of social media behemoth Facebook is waning among teens. The study shows 33 percent cited it as the most important, down from 42 percent six months ago. However, approximately 53 percent of females and 52 percent of males indicated that social media overall affects their purchases, with Facebook being the most important, followed closely by microblogging site Twitter and photo-sharing platform Instagram.

The survey also revealed the importance of video games among American teenagers, with that demographic representing more than one-third of video game players. Gaming accounts for 6 percent of teen spending, and awareness of next-generation consoles was 73 percent among teens that play video games at least monthly. Approximately 52 percent of teens intend to purchase a next-generation console, and 29 percent of teens are trading in old games to fund new software and hardware purchases.

The project, conducted in partnership with DECA, an international association of high school students, is comprised of gathering input from approximately 5,200 teens with an average age of 16.3 years. Teen spending patterns, fashion trends, and brand and media preferences were assessed through visits to a geographically diverse subset of high schools in 10 U.S. states and through a national online survey of a wider group of teens from 37 different states.

A March report from the Pew Research Center found smartphone adoption among American teenagers has increased substantially and mobile access to the Internet is pervasive, with a quarter of teens described as "cell-mostly" Internet users—those who mostly surf the Web using their phones, rather than other devices such as desktops or laptops. More than three-quarters (78 percent) of teens now have a cell phone, and almost half (47 percent) of them own smartphones, according to the report.