In 2004, less than 50 percent of 12 to 17 year-olds in America owned cell phones. Now, 75 percent do. If you spend some time on a bus, in a mall, or even at a school, it will come as no surprise that many teens prefer to communicate via cell phone. But according to the Pew Research Center, fully two-thirds of teens prefer to use their cell phones for texting friends rather than talking with them. The explosion in texting and teen cell phone use has implications for parents, educators, and lawmakers.
Throw sexting in to the mix and you have a more complicated issue.
Not that many teens snap and send sexually explicit pictures on their phones (Pew says about 4% of cell phone users) but many more receive them (15%, according to the Pew research.) It can have serious criminal implications, as this recent case in Portland shows. In the 2011 legislative session, Oregon lawmakers may consider revising Measure 73, which voters passed just last month, and make a misdemeanor category for certain sexting between teens.
We’ll broadcast this show live from Grant High School in Portland but we want to hear from other places too. Are you a teen or parent of a teen who texts? Should high schools ban cell phone use during the school day? Have you ever sent or received a “sext” message?
Amanda Lenhart: Senior Research Specialist for Pew Research Center
Vivian Orlen: Principal, Grant High School, Portland
Charles Hunter: Dean of Students, Grant High School, Portland
Beth Slovic: Reporter, Willamette Week
Trent Mitchell: video production teacher, Shorecrest High School in Shoreline, WA