Digital Devices & Parent-Teen Time Issues — New Research

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Check out the interesting new research just out from Common Sense Media about the issues and challenges when it comes to 21st Century digital kids and their mobile devices. The image depicts a range of statistics and device issues, collected via a poll of 1,200 parents and teens.

This infographic can be an excellent resource to use for family conversations about teens’ and children’s screen and digital device times (and adults’ times, too). It offers a range of information that can help parents discuss potential problems and concerns.

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New Pew Report on Teens and Technology 2013

Growing internet use by teens and other age groups, too.

Growing internet use by teens and other age groups, too.

If you are an educator who teaches teenagers or a parent of adolescents, check out this newest research release — Teens and Technology, 2013 —  from the Pew Internet and American Life Project. The survey results come from interviews with 802 adolescents between the age of 12 – 17 and separate interviews with their parents, conducted over the phone in English and Spanish.

If you have any doubts about how fast digital life is changing for young people, this should dispel many of them.

  • 78% of teens now have a cell phone, and almost half (47%) of them own smartphones. That translates into 37% of all teens who have smartphones, up from just 23% in 2011.
  • 23% of teens have a tablet computer, a level comparable to the general adult population.
  • 95% of teens use the internet.
  • 93% of teens have a computer or have access to one at home. Seven in ten (71%) teens with home computer access say the laptop or desktop they use most often is one they share with other family members.
  • 25% say they mostly use their phone online.

Most Interesting Quote

One in four teens are “cell-mostly” internet users, who say they mostly go online using their phone and not using some other device such as a desktop or laptop computer.

Schools must find ways to incorporate phones into the 21 Century learning paradigm.

Needed: 2013 Digital Rules-of-the-Road for New Smart Devices

cell phone contract graphicAfter the December holidays lots of digital kids are using new digital devices.

Each new digital gadget requires that parents update or introduce a family digital device action plan — akin to the rules-of-the road that are so critical to new drivers.

These days flashy new smartphones, iPads, iPod Touches, music players, computers, laptops, notebooks, and video games are  connected in some way to the exciting, but rough and tumble world of the Internet. Sometime during the first week of gadget ownership parents and children need to sit together and review digital behavior and expectations.

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Good, Bad, Ugly… Internet? – Danah Boyd

Check out Danah Boyd’s short commentary, The Good, the Bad, the Ugly … and the Internet in Boston Magazine. In the June 15, 2012 piece Boyd describes how fears about children’s safety have curtailed their time out in the real, face-to-face world for several generations. Today many parents have transferred their fears into the digital world.

Read some of Boyd’s blog posts here.

Boyd points out that many serious behavioral issues, bullying, for instance, have been and continue to be huge problems. Yet they tend to be more frequent and serious face-to-face than in the digital world (though the digital problems get more media coverage). As one of the most well-regarded observers of teen social networking behavior, Boyd conducts research for Harvard’s Berkman Center and for Microsoft.

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Is the Price of Privilege too Little Sleep?

I’ve just finished re-reading The Price of Privilege, a 2008 book by Madeline Levine. Last week at a professional development event at my school, I heard Dr. Levine speak, while taking nearly three pages of notes and recalling some of the parenting strategies my husband and I  used when our daughter, now out of graduate school, was in middle and high school.

Almost every concern that Dr. Levine raised — perfectionism, discontent, and insecurity — is familiar after years of parenting and teaching. I especially like her descriptions of effective parenting. Most importantly, when I read her book four years ago and reread it again last week, I thought about sleep and how much of a priority it needs to be for parents and children.

After the lecture my husband and I thought back to our daughter’s middle and high school years, considering all of the things we did well or could have done better. In the process we remembered the emphasis our family placed on getting enough sleep and eliminating computer screens each evening — sometimes to our daughter’s chagrin. Continue reading

Pew Report on Teen Behavior and Social Media Sites

Pew infographic. Click and view larger version of this image.

Take a few minutes to read at least the main points of the November 2011 report on teens and social networking, published in November 2011 by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. The executive summary is a fairly quick read.

During the spring and summer of 2011 researchers made calls to 799 teens between the ages of 12 and 17, and they also spoke with a parent or guardian of each adolescent. Interestingly, a large number of the teens surveyed reported that their parents and teachers provided them with the best and most helpful advice on digital citizenship issues and other virtual concerns. The media were the third most significant influence.

Browse all of the infographics from this Pew Internet report.

A Few Other Interesting Points

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Summer Vacation and Family Digital Conversations

I recommend this documentary for a summer family movie night.

Are you thinking about digital citizenship and safety conversations? Do you want to learn more about Wikipedia?  Summer is a great time for these talks. Here’s why.

School’s out and many children fill at least part of their summer days with World Wide Web activities on fast internet connections. Camps and daycamps feature computer labs and lots of specialized digital programs. On the go we increasingly carry more gadgets — mobile phones, smartphones, iTouches, Blackberries, and iPads. In fact, even on vacations and at hotels, cottages, and many of those rustic country cabins we all hope to escape to, we stay connected. After years of teaching I’ve found that my students’ digital skills usually expand during the three-month summer hiatus from school.

Adults can learn more, too. Ask your children to help you expand your own skills. Maybe you want to download videos or save podcasts to your smartphone. Perhaps you can start a family blog, really learn how to use your digital camera, or ask your child can show you how to make special ringtones from your favorite music. If you don’t know how to text, summer is a great time to learn. Read 7 Constructive Digital Suggestions from Kids to Parents.

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