teens and cell phone use

anyone who works with teenagers knows that their cell phones have become an inseparable extension of their selves, a part of defining and experiencing relationships and life in general. but this article has some interesting insights into why most kids really can’t go without their phones for more than a day…

Teens text teens, talk to parents
Teens text teens, but for the adults in their lives, they flip them open to talk, said the girls. A lot of adults haven’t figured out how to use their cells to text or they have the “old-fashioned” cells that are only good for talking.

Anxious without their phones
Wired magazine recently published the results of a study by Context, a Baltimore company that uses anthropologists to study consumer trends. It asked 144 cellphone users ages 16 to 40 from several countries to give up their cellphones for a couple of days. Even the moderate users described the experience as one of “deprivation.” They felt anxious without their phones.

The phone is face to face for teens
When it came to the teen users or “mobiles” as the study coined them, it found teens who had no cells didn’t interact with the ones who did. The researchers didn’t think these “mobiles” were being deliberately rude, just that a “digital-divide” separated the two groups since the cellphone users saw little difference between meeting face-to-face and talking on the phone.

And some Canadian (ysmarko: the article is based on a canadian study) stats:
Young people ages 13 to 24 are the largest group of wireless phone users in Canada, according to statistics gathered by Decima Research.
Not every teen owns a cell, but 52 per cent of Canadian teens do have their own phone, according to research by Trendscan.
Teens spent 10 per cent less on clothing last year, allocating money to their cells, a NPD Group study reported.
More cellphone chatting and text messaging has meant fewer teens using online chat rooms, according to a study by Mobile Youth. Only 27 per cent now use Internet access to chat, down from a high of 75 per cent in 1999. Also 93 per cent of those surveyed now use text messaging every day . About three per cent send more than 40 messages a day.

(ht to ypulse)

my wife and i have been wrestling with our 14 year-old daughter’s texting use. she had a 200 texts/month limit, but has gone about 500 over that the last two months in a row. she’s had to pay the difference, which has been about $40 – $50 per month, draining her tiny stash of cash to nothing. but she doesn’t seem to mind at all, or see it as a waste of money. for liesl, it’s how she lives life in relationship with her friends. after lots of discussion, we’re letting her move to a 1500 texts/month plan, which she’ll gladly pay for herself.

oops – update since i wrote this last paragraph. my daughter was “mis-using” her texting, one might say (i would). so we’ve cancelled her texting plan for the rest of the school year.

9 thoughts on “teens and cell phone use”

  1. My 3 kids pay for unlimited text messages and they average between 4000 and 7000 messages for EACH kid per month.

    For my son I think he would really have to think about which he would rather lose for a punishment his car or his cell phone.

  2. I think another thing that it is interesting and somewhat unrelated is the other things that teens (and adults) use cell phones for. For instance, when students were not allowed to have cell phones with them at a conference this summmer, they had a hard time keeping track of time because they use it as a pocketwatch. Some cell phones also double as flashlights and nightlights, mp3s, alarm clocks etc.
    So if students are not sucked in by the connectedness, they are sucked in by everything else the gadget does for them as well.

  3. what does this information mean for us as youth ministers?
    i’m still trying to figure that out.

  4. Jess. This means we should be texting kids constantly. It’s easier then any other form of contact. AND it’s better received then anything else we could be doing (not that we should stop all other forms of contact). I only use text messaging when I am contacting youth and I text about 1200 times a month. I can’t believe I am on the low end of these kids!!!!

  5. So here is a question I’ve been wrestling with – are the days of “don’t bring your cell phone, ipod, etc. to the lock-in/retreat” over? Or is it more important than ever? I have lots of both positive and negatives I could come up with – but maybe I should ask our kids first!?

  6. Best phone I’ve seen for texting – the iPhone. Others might have the same feature, but it will display text conversations like a chat room, and does not limit storage to 50 messages like my old phone did.

  7. I text the youth all the time. Occasionaly, this has led to some conversations that I don’t think they would have had in person; same type of safety youth once found in emailing… this is just easier, faster, mobile…etc. However, I don’t allow my youth to bring phones on our two week summer mission trip. They all comment how ‘free’ they feel after the initial shock and de-toxing time. One student ‘gave his up for lent’ this year… and has experienced a similar freedom and renewed appreciation for REAL face to face. They aren’t bad. Like anything moderation and appropriate use can be a great tool for ministry and life.

  8. I have middle school youth, all but two of my fourteen have cell phones. They fuss and fight about turning OFF the phones during our meeting time(and I had a cell phone bucket for them to put them into, but relented to letting them have them but not use them. They tried anyway so now we have NO cell phones on during youth). They have to turn them off in front of me. I do not think that a hour on Sundays and 45 minutes on Wednesday nights without their cell phone is gonna kill them. It is completely distracting during our meetings and they don’t pay attention to the reason they are there in the first place. If they sneak them, then I go to parents. We compromise and they can use them during events, travel, as long as it is not while someone is speaking or during a small group musical setting. It is just plain rude, in my opinion, to use cell phones during these times. For the most part, I don’t have too much trouble, though there are a couple who try to buck any guidelines that I try to set(their parents are the same way, so it’s a losing battle there).

  9. if you’re not utilizing texting to draw students into deeper relationships then you are missing out. Don’t settle for texting, but start there.

    there are some great services that deliver information to a mass group of people via text message. do some research on these as they are all different.

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