Kids turning to cellphone for Internet; it's tough on parent oversight
The number of teens and tweens accessing the Internet via cellphone is growing, a new survey says, posing bigger problems for parents who like to keep tabs on their kid's Internet activities.
Keep computers in a common area so you can monitor what your kids are doing. It's a longstanding directive for online safety – but one that's quickly becoming moot as more young people have mobile devices, often with Internet access.
A new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project finds that 78 percent of young people, ages 12 to 17, now have cellphones. Nearly half of those are smartphones, a share that's increasing steadily – and that's having a big effect on how, and where, many young people are accessing the Web.
The survey, released Wednesday, finds that one in four young people say they are "cell-mostly" Internet users, a percentage that increases to about half when the phone is a smartphone.
In comparison, just 15 percent of adults said they access the Internet mostly by cellphone.
"It's just part of life now," says Donald Conkey, a high school sophomore in Wilmette, Ill., just north of Chicago, who is among the many teens who have smartphones. "Everyone's about the same now when it comes to their phones — they're on them a lot."
He and other teens say that if you add up all the time they spend using apps and searching for info, texting and downloading music and videos, they're on their phones for at least a couple hours each day — and that time is only increasing, they say.
"The occasional day where my phone isn't charged or I leave it behind, it feels almost as though I'm naked in public," says Michael Weller, a senior at New Trier High School, where Conkey also attends. "I really need to have that connection and that attachment to my phone all the time."
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