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Rich and Co.

Social Media Cautions #1: Teens + Mobile = Trouble?

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The impression one gets from social media is that adults only “see” other adults, and mainly business users, dominating somed – ain’t true.   Teen girls “rule” (dominate) the statistics on social media and mainly use it to connect with their best friends, rarely use it to connect with non-friends and mainly text.

We have posted the facts on this repeatdly and had most commentators tell us they don’t believe the data because it contradicts their immediate personal experience, feelings and wishes.  Predictable.

Is that a reason for a moral panic?  All moral panics say more about the accusers than the supposed “perps.”  In fact, this kind of “bad” behavior is usually grossly and hysterically over-hyped.  Still….

Bottom Line —

  • It’s this ubiquitous access to technology by children that’s cause for concern among some sectors.
  • For others, it’s the ubiquitous text-messaging. It’s the content of the texts (namely sexual content). It’s the places where they text (while driving, while at school).

Take Aways –

  • 75% of 12- to 17-year-olds own cellphones
  • an increasing number say they own smartphones and have access not just to mobile voice, but texting and data plans as well.
  • But students are speaking out about this. In a recent survey, they listed their inability to use their cellphones at school as one of the major technology barriers they face.

Teens + Mobile = Trouble? — By Audrey Watters / June 10, 2011

Moral panic. Time and time again, changes occur that make some people feel as though the very fabric of society is at risk. Those changes can be cultural; they can be technological. Often, they involve activities associated with and undertaken by youth.

It’s no surprise then that of mobile phones and children have repeatedly elicited moral panic. According to a 2010 survey by the Pew Research Center,. Project Tomorrow’s Speak Up 2010 survey found that 20% of children from kindergarten through second grade said they owned cellphones, and 29% of those from third through fifth grade said they did. These children don’t just own feature phones either; an increasing number say they own smartphones and have access not just to mobile voice, but texting and data plans as well.

Although sexting makes headlines, it isn’t the only place in which we’ve seen great upheaval and concern surrounding teens’ mobile habits.  Although cellphones are teens’ primarily communication devices, most schools continue to ban them from the classroom, arguing that they are a distraction and that students’ data plans and 3G access allow them to bypass schools’ web filtering mechanisms.

But students are speaking out about this. In a recent survey, they listed their inability to use their cellphones at school as one of the major technology barriers they face. High schoolers said they wanted to use cellphones to check their grades, conduct research, take notes in class, collaborate and communicate with friends, use a calendar, send an email, learn about school activities, and create and share videos.

Despite students’ interest in using cellphones at school and even parents’ willingness to pay for the devices and the data plans, over 65% of principals surveyed said they’d refuse to let students do so.

Cellphones as the Point of Control
The argument for getting a cellphone – whether it was an argument from a teen or a parent – used to involve safety.  But teens are now clear that the primary reason they want one is to stay in touch with their friends.

For parents, however, a children’s cellphone is still very much a point of control. Parents put limits on the number of minutes and number of texts. They admit to regularly looking through the contents of their children’s phones, and they say that they take away access to cellphones as punishment.

Will these sorts of technologies that give parents better control help assuage fears about teens’ mobile phone usage? Will they help convince schools to let students bring their phones into the classrooms?

After all, the pervasiveness of these devices means that we’ve reached the point where the vast majority of teens are carrying a small computing device in their pockets or backpacks? Is that technology cause for celebration or panic?”

 

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Written by Rich and Co.

June 12, 2011 at 7:38 pm

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