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updated 9/11/2012 2:49:14 PM ET 2012-09-11T18:49:14

The number of U.S. youngsters who own smartphones has exploded over the past year. It could be that parents are feeling more generous, but far more likely that they're simply handing their old phones down to their kids — a lot like the family car — which could mean a slew of iPhones will land in the laps of teens when the new iPhone is released this month.

As of July 2012, 58 percent of kids from 13 to 17 have a  smartphone, an increase of more than 60 percent compared with a year ago, according to a report released this week from analyst firm Nielsen. The percentage of teens who own smartphones now exceeds the 55.5 percent of the population at large who own smartphones.

Nielsen also reported that Americans prefer  Android phones to iPhones , but we wanted to know if teens reflected the same preference as their parents. They do, Nielsen told us. The majority of American teens (51.8 percent) used Android handsets and just over a third (33.9 percent) had iPhones. The figures show a slightly larger preference for iPhones compared to parents. Looking at the past three months, nearly 60 percent of U.S. adults used an Android phone, while 33 percent used an iPhone.

So what device are all those teens using that isn't accounted for by either Android or iPhone? They're using  BlackBerry phones  — twice as many teens as adults use a BlackBerry.

Does this mean that BlackBerry is recapturing the youth appeal it enjoyed when it was the "it" phone — pre-iPhone days? We think not. It's more likely that parents are giving their old phones to their kids, opting to add pricier  data contracts  to the family plan when it's time for Mom and Dad to upgrade.

© 2012 TechNewsDaily

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