The Washington Post
Amanda Lenhart, senior researcher at the Pew Research Center, discusses epehemeral exchange apps and the way in which teens curate the perfect image of themselves on social media. (WashingtonPostLive Production/The Washington Post)

Amanda Lenhart

Senior researcher, Director of Teens and Technology, Pew Research Center

We are seeing that more than 95 percent of teens are now online. Certainly, about 80 percent of those teens use social media in some ways. We’re starting to also see some of this technology percolate into the schools. For some teens, that’s the only place they really get access to this technology.

We also need to talk about the ways in which the average doesn’t always tell the story. We have kids who still don’t have robust access at home to technologies that allow them to do basic research.

Lower-income families and teens are less likely to have computer access and Internet access at home. It's not dramatically less, but it’s less. [But] the digital divide still exists. . . . It’s in terms of raw access to different kinds of hardware and software. Interestingly, income is not a factor in cellphone ownership. Very modestly, but it is much less of a factor than it is for computer ownership. So a lot of low-income kids have quite robust cellphone access. In many cases, we saw at least initially that many low-income kids were the first kids to get unlimited texting, unlimited data and unlimited voice, because they were using some of the companies and products that were aiming at particularly low-income markets to give you kind of like all-you-can-eat for $30 a month on a phone.

A recent report we just released shows that, in fact, 43 percent of teachers of AP classes — which are some of our most academically challenging classes — say they’re using tablets. About [three-quarters] of them say they’re using cellphones in the classroom for educational purposes. I know teachers who have done spelling tests where you text your spelling of the word to a device that allows people to see on a screen or for the teacher to see it. It can be a creative way to enhance engagement in a classroom.

For Amanda Lenhart’s full bio, click here.


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