More U.S. teens than ever are using smartphones as their main access to the Internet, according to a recent report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project. But teens’ constant texting and Internet access can create headaches for parents worried about monitoring sexting, cyber-bullying and other inappropriate online activities. What are teens up to on the web these days, and how much should parents control teens’ online behavior?

Jim Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media, a San Fancisco-based non-profit seeking to improve media and entertainment on behalf of kids and families
Amanda Lenhart, senior researcher and director of Teens and Technology at the Pew Research Center
Madeline Levine, Marin psychologist and author of books such as "Teach Your Children Well" and "The Price of Privilege"

  • Ralph

    I was relieved to recently hear that the cool people have already left Twitter and Facebook. To me Twitter is just the new Myspace: Annoying as heck, ugly, and every schmuck is on it. Plus it has its own stupid jargon. Facebook stopped being cool the moment when parents, grandparents, and teachers showed up, of course. Maybe teens will continue to use Facebook because it still appeals to narcissistic shallow people and the easily-distracted, but I hope something… anything … will replace it.

  • Linda Barnes

    Kids should never have a cell phone in a pocket or anywhere else visible on their bodies during the school day. Parents should not contact their kids via cell during the school day. They may always call the school office to get a message to their kids. Phones take away privacy from all students on campus. Students snap photos of other students in the restrooms, locker rooms and anywhere else without permission. The phones are disruptive during class time.The students text non-stop when they should be working.

    Phones are constantly lost and/or stolen.Phones should be placed within a pencil case with holes fitted for a 3-ring binder. Then the binder should be placed within a backpack. This would make it difficult for anyone to steal a phone because the phone would actually have to be taken out of a binder out of a backpack- not just out of a pocket!

    Linda B.

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    How many kids are being taught that their online behavior may well play a negative role to future college/university and/or employment if its shown they have done something illegal, unethical via a cell phone?

    Facebook and Twitter are already being used by college/universities and prospective employers to check up on you.

    • While your sentiment is dead on Beth, colleges aren’t actually looking at HS students FB and Twitter profiles for admissions. Admissions offices barely have the time to read through the applications they get and the only time they do “check up” on a student through Google is if they have discrepancies on their application or they are a “too good to be true” candidate.

  • Andrew

    I’m a new parent, 33 years old, a technology native who still remembers land lines. Also, I teach high school students in Silicon Valley. There is absolutely no reason why children, teenagers included, should have a cell phone, not to mention a smart phone. Internet is a necessity these days and kids should / will be internet and tech savvy no matter what. But when you have a generation of older parents who can’t figure out how to reset a router, there is little hope that they are going to know how to manage their child’s internet behavior. My child won’t have a cell phone until they can afford to buy one on their own. Parents are the issue; not the technology.

  • Nicholas Rusanoff

    BEST APRIL FOOLS JOKE EVER, because these witch doctors can’t be serious….

  • Lance

    As a techie being paid by the indifferent masses.

    It’s very impractical to expect parents to educate and properly admin technology. The vast majority have zero interest in the guts of technology.

    On the second issue, the conservative social aspect of American culture prevents open communication about anything sex related for the vast majority of parents.

  • Nicholas Rusanoff

    who the hell uses a blackberry anymore?

  • Niketana

    Notice how it is parents and older adults who can’t seem to leave their cell phones alone after the lights go down in a movie theater. Even though it has become common for screens to asks patrons to turn devices off–or even for the theater manager to make that request before the film starts–some adults will still ‘check’ again, or they will pop open the phone during the film, not realizing or caring that the screen is so bright that it is very distracting even without sound, especially in a setting where light, darkness, and moving images are essential. On some level this behavior is no different from someone having a cigarette, except now most people will step outside to do so.

  • menloman

    If I understand Jim Steyer, cellphones if abused are bad, but if they aren’t abused they’re good. This is of course true about anything and therefore a worthless observation.

  • Kids need to know the huge consequences posting their activity, thoughts and personal business on the Internet. Once it’s posted, it’ll always be there.

    Growing up in a generation where food is a picture, a thought is a status and a song is a representation of your life, it’s a little sad.

    Adults don’t pay attention to their kids because they’re too busy looking at their smartphone. Kids don’t pay attention to their parents because of their smartphone. Teens don’t pay attention to their teachers because of their smartphones. Smartphones aren’t really making people smart! Look at the freeways! Look at the sidewalks. We’re all in a mobile device prayer. We’ll evolve with poor communication skills, text neck and carpal tunnel.

    Ryan D.

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