March 13, 2013

Cell-only Internet access accelerating

The trend among younger users to use only mobile devices presents parents with new challenges.

Martha Irvine / The Associated Press

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A Pew Internet report says the younger generations will be more likely to use mobile devices as their main means of accessing the Internet.

The Associated Press

Mark Tremayne, an assistant professor of communication at the University of Texas at Arlington, says he and his wife put off getting their son a smartphone longer than most- until his 13th birthday, which is quickly approaching. They plan to monitor it, having already discovered a few "surprises" when checking the Web surfing history on his iPod Touch.

On one hand, Tremayne says it's the sort of stuff he used to look up in books and magazines when he was 13.

"It's pretty clear that kids will do what kids will do," he says. But he acknowledges that having a mobile device can make it that much easier to access.

The key, he says, is to talk to his son about it, and that's what many other tech and communication experts also advise.

At the Conkey household in suburban Chicago, brothers Donald and Harry know their parents track the music they buy and might look at their Web surfing history when borrowing their sons' laptops. Mom Brooke Conkey acknowledges that she also may glance at the occasional text.

"Oh yeah, she'll look over our shoulders and she'll want to know who we're talking to - and that's to be expected," says Harry Conkey, a high school senior. "It's a parent. It's natural to want to know who your kids are talking to."

His parents don't use filters of any kind because, while there's been the occasional "mistake" when downloading or surfing on their phones or laptops, Mom and Dad think that's just part of learning and growing up. That may change, however, with their 6-year-old son Peter.

"I think that things will get trickier as time goes on," Brooke Conkey says.

 

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