Creating teenage social media monsters one text at a time

By Garry Knight from London, England [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Jennifer Tofanelli

featured contributor

Digital marketing dollars are earned through cold hard data. And real life experiences. Often, one will support the other. This post is no exception. 

Take a recent article that appeared on ClickZ where the IAB defined mobile as a behavior and not a technology. Ann Bager, VP and GM of Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence, originally said that “Our overall definition of mobile is not about the device. Mobile is a behavior, not a technology. It’s about accessing content wherever you are…it’s really the use that is mobile, not the device.”

It’s the behavior, not the technology

Boy-oh-boy, do I agree. As a mom to three young ladies, we have more than our fair share of mobile devices in our household. And it’s the behavior, not the technology, that I am concerned with. Not to give out too much of the gory details, but here is a recent screenshot of monthly texting behaviors for 3 of our lines.

Screen Shot 2013-03-24 at 5.17.12 PM

Nearly 5,000 text messages in one month, for real? Yep. Not to mention the amount of data and time spend in apps and web browsing from their mobile devices versus a PC. Good golly, miss molly, what have I done? I’m creating social media monsters one text at a time. And I’m not the only one. In order to calm my parental worries, I headed straight to the internet to dig up a little research to prove that it wasn’t just me, sending my kids straight to digital addiction counseling in their near futures. It’s all of us.

Mobile use penetration by generation climbs ever higher each passing year. The only reason Generation Z hasn’t surpassed Millennials is that there has been some discrepancy in just how young is too young to get an iPhone. I suspect that the trending age of appropriateness will continue to drop until it hovers around the age of 12 or 13. It’s just my opinion, but I think the general public accepts 18-23 as a vital age range to own and be proficient in the advantages of a smart phone. Think about the last time you encountered someone who DIDN’T own an iPhone. I simply can’t. Research seems to indicate this trend will continue as mobile phones become ever more ubiquitous in our classrooms, shopping malls and life in general.

The more connected we seem, the more we need to communicate face to face.

Of course, all my interests in the internet and digital marketing fall by the wayside when it comes to parenting and all the potential pitfalls that come with trying to embrace evolution and all it’s glory for the benefit of the next generation. I want my kids to understand the important role of technology and how they can contribute and lead it to bettering more than damaging. So I talk to them about all the cool new apps and the different tools that help make life more livable.

The family that Facebooks together stays together, I always say. 

We check-in, checkout, Vine, Skype, Instagram, hashtag and Path each other all day long. I also talk to them about sexting, driving while texting and so much more it makes my head ache and my stomach a little sick sometimes. I’m not saying we are perfect, but we try to talk it out. The more connected we seem to be, the more of a dire need to communicate face to face. It’s not always the easiest, but certainly worth it. I also try to do my research to stay on top of it all, especially because I am not in the same generational audience pool as they and I don’t want to be. I’m too old to be targeted for some of the behaviors they engage in. But I’m not too old to know where to look and who to trust. I check out what Mayo Clinic says about the risks of being a teenager who texts and I read up on all the news about the newest fads, like sleep texting and snap-chatting and all the hacking going on around iPhone sexting apps. Like I said, I don’t trust it all, but I do trust my kids.

And I’m not saying my kids use snapchat to sext. I have smart kids who use smart technology. That doesn’t mean they are perfect and neither is the technology. But I do so love them both.


The original post, “Smart kids. Smart technology. Bad behavior? Not always.” by Jennifer Tofanelli was originally published on Jenn on the Run
Original Article

Photo by Garry Knight from London, England [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Jennifer Tofanelli
A former newspaper reporter and a wanna-be paperback writer, Jennifer is now Director of Social Media at Sears. She's always on the hunt for the next heart-warming story about how social media can be more social and how people will always be people. She also runs and occasionally chases after her three daughters. She prefers to run on the beach. Any beach, really.


  1. says

    This is a great post, not on technology but on parenting. I work as a Director of Technology for a school district . In this digital society it is even more important that parents take an active role in their child(ren)’s lives. Parents need to understand the world that our kids are living in and have those crucial conversation to help them steer through to adulthood.

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