Teen intimacy across space

Maybe love leads technology.

As we watch mobile internet devices sweep into the United States, their adoption is led by teens, young adults, Hispanics and blacks. 60% of young adults age 18-29 use text messaging vs. only 14% of their parents. We’ve pondered why some groups adopt handset devices so quickly. Is it simply default, that teens and some minorities may not have access to PCs in offices so use cell phones instead? Or is there something deeper for demos outside the mainstream that makes mobile devices attractive?

Danah Boyd writes that young Palestinian women often receive cell phones from boyfriends so they can have private communications, in a society where such talk may be taboo. The girls hide the phones under clothing and charge them late at night, when parents can’t see the power cords. For teens, the mobile phone is a key device for negotiating intimate relations throughout the world, she writes.

So maybe it isn’t bandwidth, the gadget, or the interface. Maybe humans, especially those forming or protecting their identities, hunger to connect privately in a very public world.

Photo/self-portrait by imanifest. Pew studies on mobile technology trends here.

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