7. Cell Phones and Mobile Devices

At the time of this writing nearly seven billion active cell phone subscriptions across the globe serve about 96% of the world’s population.1 In 2013 the sale of smartphones (such as iPhone and Android) exceeded the sale of feature phones (what I sometimes refer to as “dumb phones”) for the first time in history.2 In addition, about a third of US Internet users report using some sort of tablet computer or mobile computing device (such as an Apple iPad or Samsung Galaxy). Handheld computing devices have become ubiquitous and universal. While it’s tempting to think of personal computers and cell phones as being quite different, mobile devices are really just powerful computers in handheld form.

Sooner or later, while living at home or after they leave for college, children are going to use these devices. As always, I’m not encouraging unfettered access to these devices by the youth, but I am encouraging dialogue between parents and teens concerning the pros and cons of putting that much computing power in the back pocket of the average teenager. In this chapter we’ll talk about a number of issues that you should be aware of concerning cell phones, and we’ll discuss the pros and cons of smartphone and tablet usage among the youth.

Suggested Listening:
Internet Safety Podcast Episode 17: Handheld and Mobile Devices

1 As of 2013, the International Telecommunications Union estimates 6.8 billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide. “Global mobile statistics 2013 Part A: Mobile subscribers; handset market share; mobile operators,” mobiThinking (Dec. 2013), accessed Dec. 14, 2013. http://mobithinking.com/mobile-marketing-tools/latest-mobile-stats/a
2 Natasha Lomas, “Smartphones Finally Overtook Dumbphone Sales Globally in Q2, Android Now at 79%, Says Gartner,” TechCrunch, Aug. 14, 2013. http://techcrunch.com/2013/08/14/gartner-q2-smartphone/

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