Generation Mobile

Parents, researchers and educators have long been concerned about the negative impact on kids of the constant access to mobile devices and the Internet. Whether itís distracted driving, cyberbullying, or just the ability to circumvent parental controls, the use of smartphones and other connected devices is presenting a fresh set of problems at home and in the classroom.

Now even the government is starting to take notice. Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission held a forum at McKinley Technology High School in Washington D.C. to address the risks associated with heavy technology use among young people. As well as FCC officials and an army of guest panelists, the forum was attended by over 700 parents, educators, and students.

The event included a special Skype appearance by Glee star Jane Lynch, who is a member of the LG Text Ed council. LG Text Ed is an educational campaign for parents that addresses teen mobile phone misuse, and provides resources so they can teach responsible phone use to their children. Ms Lynch has appeared in a number of entertaining videos for the program (including the one above), which provide a humorous context for a very serious message.

Despite the large contingent of online safety experts and industry representatives, it was the students themselves who provided some of the most telling insights. Clearly most teens understand that their parents want to keep them safe, but they also feel that there is a fine line between keeping an eye on them and snooping. Some of the monitoring technology that was discussed at the forum would be more appropriate for the CIA than for parents of most well-adjusted kids.

It was also clear just how much teens and even younger kids depend on cell phones and the Internet for maintaining and nurturing their multi-faceted relationships. To them, sending or receiving hundreds of texts a day is neither unusual or something that adults should be concerned about; itís just how teens communicate.

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