Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Tethered Disparities: Adolescent Smartphone Use in Rural and Urban China

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Abstract:  The pervasive penetration of the smartphone has disproportionately affected adolescents and youth more than any other sociodemographic group. Inspired by the conceptual framework of the digital divide in internet use, this research aims to interrogate the multi-dimensional aspects of disparities in smartphone use among teens in China. Measurement was developed to assess the first-, second-, and third-level divide as manifested in smartphone access and engagement in a variety of activities, different skill sets, and myriad outcomes and consequences. Results from a cross-sectional survey of 1,511 at-school teens show various patterns of divide along the lines of age, gender, and rural/mid-sized-city/metropolitan location.

Keywords:  China; digital divide; media disparities; smartphone use; territorial gap



© Huan Chen, Zixue Tai. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.