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Mobile Technology and the Young Generation

When those aged 20 and above are probed on how they used spend their free time as young children, many would fondly recall their time spent outdoors – sliding down slopes on recycled cardboard, or for the more adventurous, catching insects. That was a generation that grew up without mobile technology, with many in Generation Y (those born from 1980 to 1995) only getting their first mobile phone in their teenage years or older. Times have changed, with the newer generation of individuals in the formative ages of 11 to 13 today growing up in a substantively different world than the world those 11 to 13 years’ olds of the preceding decade.


Advancements in technology have been a large factor in explanining this change; mobile technology, computers, and all sorts of communications are now easily available. Right from infancy, children are exposed to mobile technology – two-thirds of 4 to 7 year olds have used an iPhone or an iPod while in 2012, 72% of the 100 top-selling education apps in Apple’s iTunes App store were targeted at pre-schoolers and those in elementary school.


It is a generation that has become dependent on mobile technology. In The Guardian, 16 year old Philippa Grogan shared that she is reliant on her phone to the point that she would rather give up a kidney than her phone.” For 16-year-old Emily Hooley, a “very dark moment” was when she was on holiday and “there was no mobile, no TV, no broadband.”


Digital communication has become prevalent in teenagers’ lives, and while this might sound alarming to the older generation, a straightforward reason for this is that mobile technologies meet teens’ developmental needs. Establishing themselves as independent, defining their own individual identity, looking cool, and impressing members of the opposite sex are all made much easier through mobile phones and social networking sites.


Is this something parents should worry about? Many parents primary concern is that online communication via mobile technology might diminish a teen’s ability to hold face to face conversations, and turn them into socially challenged adults. Yet, this concern might be misplaced. Interviews done with teenagers have shown that teenagers are able to differentiate online conversations and conversations held face to face. They understand that online conversations have a higher chance of becoming misconstrued, and that conversations online might not reveal how a person feels.


Research has shown that face-to-face time between teenagers hasn’t change over the past five years. In this sense, mobile technology is another mode of communication – the problem comes when one becomes addicted to the use of the mobile phone. How then do you know if you or someone you know is addicted? Here are some questions you might want to ask yourself:


  • Does your phone take up most of your free time, or even distract you when you have an important task you must complete?
  • Do you lose track of time scrolling through different apps on your phone?
  • Do you feel “phantom vibrations” where you are convinced you felt your phone vibrate although it never did?
  • Do you feel desperate when your cell phone is off, missing, or unavailable?
  • Do you wake up in the middle of the night to check and use your cell phone?


All this might indicate that you have an addiction to mobile technology. If you need help addressing this addiction, Help123 is here for you. For more cyber wellness information, or to speak to our online counsellors, visit




... our hotline at 1800 6123 123 to speak to someone about your cyber wellness issue.


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