The most common use of a teenager's smart phone, aside from texting, is social networking. Teens with smart phones are extremely likely to use them to go on Facebook, MySpace, or other social networking sites.
Recent statistics tell us that 9 out of 10 American teens who own smart phones use social networking sites. They also show that 9 out of 10 teenage smart phone owners have used their phones to go online in the last month.
Okay, the second statistic isn't too shocking: if you pony up for a shiny new iPhone and a data plan to go with it then it would be dumb not to use it. But here's the interesting part: teenage smart phone owners were less likely than their peers to go online using desktops or laptop computers. They preferred their phones.
So the facts are that:
smart phones are replacing computers (at least for kids who own one), and
smart phone owning teens are very likely to be active on at least one social networking site.
And why not? If you have a smart phone, it's easy to quickly skim your Wall when you're riding in a friend's car, browse through a buddy's photos when you have a few minutes to kill between classes, or update your status while you're waiting for your parent to pick you up from play practice.
Social networking encourages short bursts of activity, not sustained or lengthy attention. That's precisely the strength of a smart phone, so it appears that social networking and smart phones go hand-in-hand.
If your teen has a smart phone, are you monitoring it as closely as you do the home computer or their laptop? Odds are that they're favoring their phone over the computer to go online, and a lot of their social networking activity happens on this device too. Kids' safety is just as much of an issue, if not more of an issue, on the phone.