Smartphones and cell phones have many positive effects on our daily lives: Quickly you can pick a meeting point by telephone or send a photo via messenger software. Experiences can be shared with others – even if they are far away. Information can be immediately passed along – even to several people at the same time.Message services like WhatsApp or Threema have definitely changed our communication behavior. Exchange between people is certainly easier, but it often results in the feeling that we need to be available all the time.
Constantly “On”For children and adolescents, too, the phone isn’t just a “play thing” – it’s a means of social communication. 94 percent of young people send or receive messages regularly (JIM Study 2015) on their phones and among children under 13 years of age already, about three quarters do too (KIM Study 2014). Interacting with friends is in itself a great thing. But it gets tough when the need arises to constantly check one’s phone for new messages and one’s daily life is then dominated by the fear one might miss something. There’s even a specialist term for this “FOMO” (fear of missing out), because the fear of not being part of the entertainment is the most common factor for over use of one’s mobile phone.
Use behaviorConstant accessibility increases the expectations that we immediately receive a reply to a message. Children and adolescents are also susceptible to this pressure to communicate, which pushes them to check their phones constantly. Always reaching for one’s phone, of course, doesn’t always make a good impression, and understandably so. The latest LfM Study “Mediatization Mobile. Phones and mobile Internetuse by children and adolescents” summerizes this problem very clearly: “Curiosity regarding new messages and the pressure for one to communicate are apparently greater than the desire to behave courteously.”
Support from family and educational professionalsChildren’s first media experiences often happen in the family. Their media use behavior is thus reflective of the parents’. The role model behavior of parents and school teachers/legal guardians has the greatest influence on the child’s handling of digital media, especially for very young children. That’s why it is important to accompany children and adolescents’ media communication with reflective conversations – and to also question one’s own media use behavior. Adolescents need parents and educators who talk to them and set common guidelines with them.
The dossier “Are you a cell phone case?!” is all about mobileuse times and breaks. It offers support for this topic with the following information as well as tips and more.