The Dangers That Lurk Within Teen Smartphones

As smartphones become more prevalent amongst teenagers, so do concerns about their safety. Teens use smartphones in a variety of ways, for making calls, catching up with groups of friends, or for creating art or researching for a school project. The possibilities of how a smartphone can be used are almost limitless and teens find creative uses for smartphones all the time. A smartphone can be a life saver at times, but in the wrong hands smartphones can be used improperly and unsafely. Not all teens are aware of the safety implications of sharing too much information or simply using the phone too much and becoming dependent on electronic devices. Here, we will discuss teens with smartphones and some of the trends associated with their usage.

Smartphone Usage Among Teens

Almost 90% of teens have their own personal cell phone, and nearly three quarters of teenagers use smartphones. Smartphones have become more affordable over time, and they allow parents to keep in touch with their children, but smartphones also allow for children to access the Internet which can open the door for lots of unsafe activities. The average teen has access to the Internet in some form, whether it is on a desktop computer, a laptop, a video game console, a tablet or a smartphone. Out of the more than 90% of teens who use the Internet daily, one quarter of all teens admit to being connected online almost constantly.

Teens and Social Media

Teenagers have latched onto social media as a way to stay connected with peers. Many social media apps will allow teens to chat privately without a cellular connection and 3 out of 4 teenagers have at least a Facebook account. 7 out of 10 teenagers use multiple social media websites. Social media websites will often advertise local businesses and target advertisements to people based on age group and other metrics. More than half of all teens have shared their location with social media advertisers in order to take part in special promotions. Teens do not tend to make the best decisions, especially online, where once something is posted or shared, it can easily be duplicated and remain online for years to come.

Almost all social media sites will ask users to share publicly share a photo of themselves and disclose the city they reside in and the school they attend. These data points help social media sites connect people with similar characteristics and social groups. It is a good idea to adjust privacy settings to keep the wrong people from gleaning too much information. However, nearly 2 out of 5 teens with a social media account do not use privacy protections and publicly provide what should be considered private information.

Teens and Text Messages

The average teen sends about 100 text messages every day. Texting is an easy way to privately share information without making a lot of noise or revealing the details of a conversation with others nearby. This can cause teens to feel a false sense of security and share information with each other which they would be better off not sharing. One out of six teens has sent or received a text message with sexually explicit content. Teens will send sexually suggestive word texts, but also send inappropriate images and videos to each other. There have been many instances where teens have gotten in trouble with the law for sharing the wrong kinds of information with each other.

Another issue teens face with text messages is cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is a fairly new word which is catching on as a way to identify bullies who take high-tech measures to harass and taunt their victims. One out of three teenagers has confessed to being cyberbullied before. Slander, spreading rumors and posting lies about others are some of the most common types of cyberbullying, but there are ways cyberbullies are able to use technology in order to commit fraud, blackmail or extortion to get what they want from their victims. Cyberbullying can affect people of all ages, and not knowing how to handle the problem or having someone to talk to can become extremely burdensome.

Online Addiction

Although it would be hard to define the Internet as a substance, online addiction is a real problem among teens and adults. 1 out of 8 people who use a smartphone will find themselves with severe separation anxiety when separated from their smartphone. Online addicts can become irritable and emotionally unstable and also show a rise in blood pressure and heart rate when it becomes absolutely impossible for them to connect to the Internet. Treating online addictions can be difficult and it is important for parents to notice when a teen becomes too absorbed in their smartphone and disconnected with the world around them.

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