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Teen Cell Phone Use: Sexting and Troubled Friendships

Mobile phone use has become largely ubiquitous in the U.S., especially among young people. According to Nielsenwire, teens remain the top text message-senders among cell phone users. According to a 2011 Nielsen survey, data usage by teens is growing at a rate surpassing that of users in any other demographic, with teen males leading the data usage surge.


In the busy daily life of the modern family, cell phones are a great way for teens to communicate with parents. They're useful to have around in case of an emergency and for safety purposes. However, there are some concerns associated with cell phone use that both parents and young people should be aware of:

Snap Chat - Innocent fun or not?

With the seemingly boundless internet at their fingertips, teens have ample opportunity to get into trouble. The new and very popular smart phone app Snap Chat has been in the spotlight lately. It's an app that allows the user to snap a picture of him or herself and then send it to another mobile phone. The photo is only visible to the receiver for seconds before it disappears.

It seems that the inevitable consequence of rapidly disappearing photos is easy sexting. Snap Chap appears to have given teens an irresistible tool for sending one another racy photos, believing that said photos will be deleted before they can be dispersed or saved. However, quick-fingered receivers can easily take a screen shot of photos, save them, and have them forever.

Teens should be cautioned that the potentially embarrassing photos that they send through Snap Chat absolutely can be saved and dispersed or used for blackmail or other nefarious purposes.

Relationship Troubles:

A 2011 study out of the University of Kansas by Jeffrey A. Hall and Nancy K Baym explores how constant cell phone contact between friends can result in feelings of technological entrapment and actually be detrimental to relationships.

The study discusses how teens get caught up in micro-coordination with their friends through cell phone use, remaining in perpetual contact with each other through instant text messaging to plan and coordinate with one another. As a result, whenever cell phone use is restricted, teens experience stress.

They also develop high expectations of one another to communicate rapidly, resulting in feelings of pressure to maintain constant communication with their friends and making texting and calling feel obligatory.
Learning how to develop and maintain friendships is a crucial part of adolescence, and cell phones may be contributing to greater strain on teens.

Teens should be made aware of this phenomenon, encouraged to interact with friends face-to-face, and given tools for dealing with relationship stress, particularly because experiencing stress from peer relationships or romantic relationships can lead to symptoms of depression.

Teenagers are susceptible to being caught up in the ever-rising tide of technology, with dangerous consequences. Stay informed and help guide your teenage child in making responsible decisions with his or her mobile phone.


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