Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Discussing the Pew report on teen cell phone use

Terry sent out this report the other day:

Teens and Mobile Phones Over the Past Five Years: Pew Internet Looks Back, August 2009:

Teenagers have previously lagged behind adults in their ownership of cell phones, but several years of survey data collected by the Pew Internet & American Life Project show that those ages 12-17 are closing the gap in cell phone ownership. The Project first began surveying teenagers about their mobile phones in its 2004 Teens and Parents project when a survey showed that 45% of teens had a cell phone. Since that time, mobile phone use has climbed steadily among teens ages 12 to 17 – to 63% in fall of 2006 to 71% in early 2008. In comparison, 77% of all adults (and 88% of parents) had a cell phone or other mobile device at a similar point in 2008.

Reading through it, at first I felt there were really no surprises. But then I came to this line:

Internet users are more likely than non-users to have a cell phone; however half of teens who do not go online do own a mobile phone.

And I thought, "who are these teens who do not go online?" and suddenly I was hit by one of my own poor assumptions. In my mind, ALL teens go online! And when we are concerned about reaching teens using the technology they are using it is easy to hear generalizations like "teens love to text!" and assume that is where we need to go to reach them all. But according to this report, only 2 in 5 teens text at least daily. These kids who are so dialed in, are they the ones we need to be working hard to get connected to libraries? Or should we be reminding ourselves to reach out to those on the other side of the digital divide?


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