A year or so ago over a third of twelve to seventeen year old Americans had smartphones – a rise of twenty three percent from 2011 – with a massive seventy eight percent having some kind of mobile phone, according to the Pew Internet Project.
Mobile phones are also how young people tend to access the internet these days, with seventy four percent going online at least occasionally with a mobile device, and twenty five percent doing so that way almost all the time. Half of all teenage users of smartphones only use the internet via their mobile phones, using hundreds and thousands of apps to connect with the world and one another.
The use of technology by the young grows more and more personal and becomes an extension of the self. One helpful thing that parents can keep in mind is that their privacy, security and safety tends to depend less on technology than on their own internal safeguards such as respect for themselves and others, kindness, resilience, critical thinking and their own moral compass. The good news for parents is that those qualities are familiar to all of us, have been around just as long as parenting has, and are far better than anything external even as technology continues to change around us.