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Teen Internet Safety and Mobile Phones

November 28, 2010 at 3:13 PM

teen internet safetyPutting the family computer in a well-trafficked, central location of the house has always been one of the first lines of defense for parents who want to keep their kids safe online. But monitoring kids' online life is harder for parents in this decade because of Internet-enabled cell phones.

The traditional computer still appears to be the method of choice for going online (probably because of the bigger screen and the easy-to-maneuver computer mouse), but the cell phone is catching up fast.How many teens use their phones to connect to the Internet? I’ve seen numbers as low as 21%, as high as 27%. Essentially, 1 in 4 kids do.

What are they doing online with their phones? Here’s a breakdown from the Pew Internet Forum:

  •           88% are texting
  • 83% are taking pictures

    • 64% are sharing pictures
    • 60% are playing music
    • 54% are recording video
    • 47% are playing games
    • 32% are exchanging video
    • 31% are instant messaging
    • 27% are browsing the Internet
    • 21% are emailing
    • 11% are shopping

Many of these used to be computer-exclusive activities, but they’re starting to be done on mobile phones, too. A great deal of today’s online communication with friends, photo and video sharing, and gaming is now done through the medium of the almighty cell phone.

The computer is still the dominant online device for most teens, particularly those in higher economic groups (presumably because of the cost of a computer in the house), but it’s no longer the only one.

When talking about your kids’ Internet use, include their mobile phone in the conversation. And when monitoring their online activity, don’t overlook the tiny mobile phone in their pocket.

Tim Woda

Written by Tim Woda

Tim Woda is an Internet safety expert, and a passionate advocate for empowering families and protecting children from today’s scariest digital dangers. Woda was on the founding team of buySAFE, an Internet trust and safety company, and he started working on child safety issues after his son was targeted by a child predator online. While his son was unharmed, the incident led Woda to kick-start You can follow Tim on Twitter or on his blog.

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