[Commentary] Enough with complaining that young people these days are addicted to their phones. The question you should be asking is: What do they know that you don't? Believe it or not, there are advantages to using technology like a teen.
I asked a handful of 11- to 17-year-olds to tell me what apps and gear they couldn't live without. They taught me to question my own habits: Why do I use email to talk with friends? Why do I only share my best photos?
I found five practices that could change how you use technology.
- Only 6% of teens exchange email daily, according to the Pew Research Center. They reserve email for official communications, or venues like school where alternatives are banned. Instead, teens use a fragmented set of messaging apps based on the people they want to communicate with.
- There's also value in not having every single message stored on an email server. The idea is to just enable a regular conversation.
- Today, 91% of teens post a photo of themselves on social media sites, according to Pew. The lesson for adults is that you can express things in images that would be time-consuming to write out, or read.
- Adults assume that young people don't care about privacy. But look closer: Some 58% of teen social-media users say they cloak their messages, according to Pew, using inscrutable pictures and unexplained jokes to communicate in code. The lesson: You can be "public" without having embarrassing things on the permanent record.
- And the reason teens are such avid early adopters isn't that they have an innate knowledge of tech -- it's that they aren't afraid to break it.