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Students without cellphones

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t may seem as if basic or flip phones are a thing of the past, given that 73% of teens have a smartphone. But according to a Pew Research Center study, that still leaves 15% of teens who only have a basic cellphone and 12% who have none at all, and it makes a difference in the way each group communicates.

Most teenagers see their phone as the essential ingredient for maintaining a healthy social life. And by essential I mean absolutely must have!

A survey by Harris Interactive found that nearly half (47%) of US teenagers thought their social life would end or be significantly diminished if they did not have a mobile phone. 57% of teenagers credited their mobile phone with improving their life.

Teenagers, like adults, use text messaging to organize their social life and maintain friendships – both absolutely critical tasks for adolescents. The rapid uptake of smartphones has made mobile devices even more effective, thus important, in this regard as teens can have constant access to their online social networking services.

A 2016 CNN article by Kelly Wallace reported that, nearly 80% of teens in the new survey said they checked their phones hourly, and 72% said they felt the need to immediately respond to texts and social networkScreen Shot 2017-01-20 at 9.03.48 AMing messages. Thirty-six percent of parents said they argued with their child daily about device use, and 77% of parents feel their children get distracted by their devices and don’t pay attention when they are together at least a few times per week.

Senior Antonio Balsamo does not have a cell phone which puts him in the minority. “My parents refuse to buy me one. The few times that I talk to my friends it’s on Facebook or I call them with my home phone. I email or talk face-to-face. I only use my iPad for school and to watch movies and videos on YouTube. After I graduate I’m going to pay the extra $50 to keep my iPad.”

Matthew Collard, also a senior did not have a cell phone for most of high school, but recently got one. “It was not my choice to get a cell phone, but my mom made me after I got my license that way I could message her where I was whenever. I didn’t want it because I knew it would take over my life. I mostly talk to my parents and snapchat or text friends.”

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 and then to 71% in early 2008.

According to Amanda Lenhart, “In comparison, 77% of all adults (and 88% of parents) had a cell phone or other mobile device at a similar point in 2008. Cell phone ownership among adults has since risen to 85%, based on the results of our most recent tracking survey of adults conducted in April 2009. The Project is currently conducting a survey of teens and their parents and will be releasing the new figures in early 2010.”


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