They Grow Up So Faster: Tween Tech

Media activities make up more than a quarter of a 6-12 year-old’s waking day.

The cell phone is, as Nina Wala observed at the IXD11 Conference, “an aspirational device” to children. It is also perhaps the most personal of mobile devices, but in the case of young people it is also a parenting tool. Ownership of a cell phone signals a certain degree of independence, but it also extends the parents ability to control and supervise the child. Here, the phone acts as a transitional object that reassures both parents and children. Through the cell phone they test and ideally set boundaries.

Younger kids are also making more use of the photo and particularly the video capabilities of the phone. They show a desire to experiment with non-verbal, non-textual means of communication; they capture and share this content more avidly. They socialize through the content they produce.

Lastly, technology is training young people with the skills necessary to navigate our global social network. Kids are not only using electronic devices at a younger age, they are using them in tandem. They blend cell phones, social networks, and television into much of their learning and play.