Teenager Mobile Phone Habits: Are We Keeping Up?

I have come across this great graphic a few times now so I thought I would share it with you. It is created by Flowtown and based on data published by Pew Research which I have referred to in an earlier post.  I wanted to share this graphic, because it presents the data really clearly, but also to raise the issue of how adults and institutions are responding to the increasing use of mobile phones by teenagers.

Key figures of interest in these findings are:

  • 75% of teens have mobile phones
  • 33% end more than 100 texts per day
  • Boys send an average of 30 text messages per day
  • Girls send an average of 80 text messages per day

However these types of figures are just the beginning.

Apparently there are already 1 billion 3G wireless subscribers, with this figure set to grow to 3 billion by 2014 (Qalcomm as cited in eSchool News).

In an article in O’Reilly Radar Qualcomm’s vice president of wireless education technology, Marie Bjerede, reported on research called  Project K-Nect , where remedial math on iPod Touches has helped students increase proficiency by 30%. The four advantages discovered by using the technology were:

1. Accessible Multimedia. Problems start with a little animated video showing how to work the problem.
2. Instruction is Personalized.  “Students need to compare solutions” not answers. “How did you get that” replaces “what did you get?”
3. Learning is Collaborative.  “ Over time, a learning community has emerged that crosses classrooms and schools and adds the kind of human interaction that an isolated, individual drill (be it textbook or digital) lacks and that a single teacher is unlikely to have the bandwidth to provide to each student.”
4. Unanticipated Participation: “Students who don’t like to raise their hands use the devices to ask questions or participate in collaborative problem solving [with blogging and instant messaging]. There appears to be something democratizing about having a ‘back channel’ as part of the learning environment.”

Lisa Nielsen puts the argument another way in her post that lists 3 messages we send when we ban mobile phones in education.

1. It teaches them that they don’t deserve to be empowered with technology the same way adults are.
2. Tools that adults use all the time in their everyday lives to communicate are not relevant to their own communication needs.
3. They can’t be trusted (or taught, for that matter) to use phones appropriately in school.

She also provides a great way of getting students to develop their own responsible usage policy, which seems to overcome some of the more common objections I hear from educators.

While there are other issues such as equity of access and sufficient infrastructure to support the required bandwidths and bulk usage, surely the time is rapidly approaching when this technology will be ubiquitous and affordable enough to offer far more opportunities than threats.  My sense is we must be nearly there already.

What are your thoughts on utilising or encouraging teens to use mobile phones in more structured settings?  Are you supportive of them being used in education? Do you use them in your youth organisation to communicate or educate?  Maybe you have some examples of how they could be used creatively. Please let us know.

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