One of my favorite places to get insight about kids and technology is from Anne Collier and Net Family News. She recently commented about the research coming from the Pew Internet & American Life Project on adolescents and mobile phone use. One comment stands out to me:
The biggest change in cellphone-ownership numbers between 2004 and 2008 was for 12-year-olds: only 18% had phone in ’04, compared to 51% last year. That does suggest that mobile users are getting younger and younger.
Cell phone use is increasing, and maybe mostly for texting, often including wireless data plans. More and more, cell phones are mini-computers tucked in back pockets of early adolescents.
As adult presence and supervision is decreasing, many parents may feel a sense of relief knowing they can connect with their teenager at any time, again, mostly through a text. This may be a weak analogy but for many 12 year olds, the acquisition of their first cell phone may be compared to kids in the 1950s and 1960s getting their drivers license and having access to dad’s Oldsmobile. New freedom and a wider world to connect with.
Parents of ten, eleven, and 12-year olds will need to make decisions about giving their early adolescent a cell phone. When, how many minutes, a data plan? But staying connected wirelessly is never a substitute for consistent, face to face, honest communication–especially about the ground rules for how the phone is to be used.
Teens and “sexting”.
Is your teenager a “mobile” – are you?
If you don’t want your teenager to text and drive than don’t text and drive yourself.