Phones, tablets and laptops are usually at the top of many teenage wish lists at Christmas. But parents often worry that giving their children a mobile phone might mean they never see them again. Will they stay locked away in their room for the whole Christmas break? It turns out that might not be such a bad thing.
In a recent study, we found that talking online and texting actually strengthened friendships more than just spending time in each other’s company. Rather than neglecting relationships and encouraging insularity, having a phone meant that young people were more likely to feel connected to their friends and closer to their family.
This is particularly important for teenagers, who are at an important stage in their development. They need to make close friends and renegotiate relationships with their parents. Making friends allows teenagers to learn how to interact with others, learn more about themselves and find their own place in the world. Mobile tech allows teenagers to stay in touch with others and can help them develop closer, more supportive friendships.
Staying in touch
Although teenagers need freedom to explore new friendships, they still need the emotional support of their parents. One study has suggested that mobile phones act as a sort of security blanket for young people as they venture further from home, knowing that parents are only a call or text away if they get in trouble.