Mt. Vernon Register-News

State News

March 13, 2013

Report: More youth use smartphones as route to Web


"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. "And I think things will be easier to get to — the naughty things. So I think I probably would be more proactive than I was with the older boys."

It's a balance, she says, because she and other parents also realize that smartphones and other mobile devices are only likely to become an even more integral part of life and learning. At least at the college level, some schools are seeing the benefit of mobile surfing, and encouraging it, too.

Last fall, Stephen Groening, a film and media studies professor at George Mason University in Virginia, taught a class that examined "cell phone cultures." Students did much of the class work using phones — creating video essays, taking pictures, texting and tweeting.

"I've had students tell me that they bring their cell phones in the shower with them. They sleep with them," Groening says, noting that he never knew a student attached to a laptop in that way

In New Jersey, Seton Hall University gives incoming freshman a free smartphone for the first semester. Among other things, they use them to help them navigate campus, connect with other students and follow campus news that streams on the SHUmobile app.

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