What is your biggest concern with young people and mobile devices?

Posted on: 08/16/17 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Let’s have a little CONTEST!

I have 5 “Advanced Reader’s Copies” of my upcoming The Teens Guide to Social Media and Mobile Devices sitting right here on my desk… and I want to give them away. (I don’t know if you saw… for some reason Amazon is offering these right now as a pre-order for just $7 and change! Grab that price while you have the chance. Wow.)

Simple: post a comment in this blog post answering this question, following these two simple instructions:

  1. Answer this: What is your biggest concern with young people today and their mobile devices? Answer this as long or as short as you like.
  2. Include your first name, and the city/state (province) you live in.

That’s it! You’ve got until the end of the week then I’ll randomly draw 5 winners!

I look forward to your responses!


54 Replies to “What is your biggest concern with young people and mobile devices?”

  1. I have many but one is that my children do not know what to do without one. When they have one second of thought that leaves them wondering what to do next, they reach for their phone rather than explore that thought. I fear this leaves them without the ability to do any type of deep thinking, whether that is to resolve a problem, make a decision, wrestle with an ethical issue, or simply to think about something and form an opinion. There are obviously many problems that smartphones and other devices are leading them to but this one is a problem regardless of what they actually see on their device.

  2. We just discussed this in a staff meeting at my school! For us, a major concern is the lack of true friendships. We have several students who have the perception that they don’t have friends and we wonder how much social media contributes to that. Relatedly, social media can create a feeling of being “left out” rather than “a part of”: all the pics and updates of “friends” can feed into insecurity.

  3. My biggest concern is the lack of development when it comes to communication and interpersonal relationships. Seeing studies that show the current generation is having problems developing and maintaining relationships, and that they cannot navigate any type of conflict due to the lack of necessary skills begs the question of how do we reach an ever disconnected generation? Nick Mance – Hershey, PA

  4. Biggest issue:
    1. Mobile devices are way too distracting – eliminates down time and creative thinking time, never mind face-to-face conversations that develop proper social skills
    2. Devices can expose students to things that are potentially destructive

  5. I would say that my biggest concern is that teenagers do not have many good examples to follow when it comes to this. Many adults have not grown up with social media and smartphones, and therefore they do not have proper margin or habits in their lives. Many parents don’t know how to effectively pass this skill along to their children, because they are still learning it themselves. Matt from Killarney, Manitoba, Canada

  6. I would say that my biggest concern is that they are simply given mobile devices and they are learning ‘appropriate use’ from friends with little or no instruction from parents or others in authority. We assume that our kids or those in our youth group or church would never do those things we read about or see online. Maybe they wouldn’t do things that are ‘as bad’ as those, but how much comes before you get to ‘that bad’. What can you do on a mobile device that isn’t too bad, yet brings them one step closer to much worse? Do we teach them how to to interact in person or put mobile devices away? We just give them out because they complain enough, other parents are doing it and their friends all have them. The peer pressure for parents is as great as for their kids and we just hand out the devices thinking there is nothing we can do. It seems like an unwinnable battle, rather than a teaching opportunity.

    Layton Evart, Michigan

  7. My biggest concern is will these sweet teens be exposed to pornography unwittingly? Will they know what to do if that happens?

  8. One of my concerns is that the most important thing in their lives at any given moment is what’s going on in their smart phone world. Everything else (what they are physically or mentally supposed to be doing in their daily “real life”) takes a back seat. They become singularly focused on the “look at me” and “what do my friends think about every decision I am making/everything I am wearing/everything I am doing” and “what is everyone else thinking/doing/wearing” or “what’s funny on YouTube”. Every moment is occupied with taking selfies and posting for all to see. What’s interesting is that, while these posed moments are SO important, the images are deleted moments (or hours) after they are posted because it is “not cool” to leave images up for too long. (That would be so self-centered, mom!) Ugh.

  9. My biggest concern is social media and sexual predators. Parents are not monitoring their children as young as 10 or 12 on these sites. Port St Lucie, Fl

  10. My greatest concern is an inability to form real relationships and a lack of interaction with others in a meaningful way. Social media is anything but social, and it’s not real life. Unfortunately, kids look at the filtered and augmented “reality” on social media and believe that their life will never match up to that of others which causes anxiety and depression. I have worked with juveniles on a daily basis for almost 30 years, and there is an alarming and overwhelming increase in anxiety and depression over past decade. My son is 12, and even though we try to limit his electronics use and he doesn’t have a phone, we fear this.

  11. My concerns are how they are fearless and unashamed of what they post. They don’t feel that they will never get caught.

  12. My concern for mobile devices and young people are actually a few. As a youth minister who is also on my mobile device often for self purposes, & ministry purposes, I’ve seen how every other week or so how the different mobile device apps are basically making things easier on our youth to hide themselves behind the screen, and making them absent mindset wise. Even when parents think they’re “monitoring” the teens, there’s always another feature or apps to help the teens and even some adults hide not so Godly or respectful things they post or share with their peers. How now some parents give these kids a device to keep them occupied, that when you try to verbally interact with the teens or converse it’s not easy for the teen to do so, or the teen is listening while still tweeting, texting etc.

    My question and concern is that as youth workers in the Lords vineyard, and as parents, how can we meet the youth where they’re at, and use the mobile devices for good, as well limit the use of them.

    Jesus – Lockhart, Texas

  13. Bryan in Fredericksburg, Virginia

    My biggest question is one of identity. We’ve already seen studies that show us how bullying is down but depression and suicide are up. FOMO is a real thing that our teens are struggling with as they craft their perfect version of themselves through Instagram filters. How can caring adults reach the iGen in digital ways that they’ll hear when we didn’t grow up with the digital world at our fingertips?

  14. My greatest concern is having kids have access to apps that can suffice them and look “fun” but draws them into looking at porn or talking with strangers and being lured into bad situations.

  15. Biggest concern is the use of an app where it attracts people posing as someone younger or someone they are not to deceive a teen, divide them against their parents, and convince teens to meet up for a a dangerous encounter. Apps that promote deception and division as a whole.

  16. My biggest concern is anything that keeps teens from a relationship with Jesus Christ. Misinformation, temptations, guilt of sin, influence of non – Christians.

  17. Social media has changed the way teens learn relationship skills with parents, peers and strangers. The danger is they are not able to learn the skills behind the screen that will help navigate the waters in life. The first place they turn to is their device instead of faith, relationships etc.
    Ryan – Fort Collins, Co

  18. My biggest concern, beside the obvious physical dangers, is that teens are not learning “real” social skills, but are instead doing most of their “socializing” through devices. So many no longer understand the importance of face-to-face communication and are not learning the skills of reading/using facial expressions, tone of voice, etc., nor learning how to express empathy. Their communications, while constant, are, sadly, so empty.
    Jennifer – Thousand Oaks, CA

  19. I think the biggest concern is that they don’t get a complete picture of real relationships Face-to-face communication and interaction involves so much more and they don’t learn how to interact with people in person.
    Andy – Grand Junction, CO

  20. One of my biggest concerns is the distraction it causes. I see it happen with my kids and others who have no idea about the world around them or even where we are driving because they are immersed in the screen. they are not aware of driving directions but also not aware of people around them that could be a problem. I see this in the City as well where kids almost walk into people or things because their screen is mesmerizing. I worry for my own kids that they can be 2 blocks from home and not know where they are!
    Phil- Rockledge Florida

  21. I have many concerns about youth and smart phones, but one is that their perception of what is valuable, important, and worth working hard for is skewed. Priority becomes others’ immediate positive reactions, keeping their streaks, and that immediate hit of dopamine. Nothing accessible on a smart phone can validate long-term effort, deep relationships, personal growth that can’t be captured in a photo. Kids end up spending their time and energy longing for things that don’t satisfy.
    Maria from Harleysville, PA

  22. My biggest concern is the underworld of social media. Youth are excited to find ways to hide their interaction from adults. They set up secret accounts. They have secret languages. Cheating the system, being dishonest and not getting caught are glorified. That alone is unacceptable but it also encourages a view of adults as gullible, uncool and out of touch in the least and as invalid and contemptible in the worst. As a society, the gulf between adolescence and adulthood is already large and this expands it further.
    Beth — Bedford, VA

  23. My girls are 12 & 14 and don’t own a phone right now. Mostly because of budget. Sometimes I feel like we’re in the dark ages. My concern is, how out of reality touch are teens going to be in the future? How does texting everything come out on the other side because texting does not involve body language, eye contact, tone…and I’m sorry, emjoi or emojis however you write that or say it, DO NOT substitute for the real deal. One thing can be texted in one tone and received in a completely different one. The power of the tongue is a tough one, let alone throwing things out across screens.

    Kim, Cookeville, TN

  24. The constant distraction is making it uncomfortable for students to “be still and know that I am God”. As this generation matures, what will happen to their spiritual lives? It will be difficult for them to be quiet and listen to the small still voice of God because they will crave constant stimulation.
    Troy Wentzville, MO

  25. I have several concerns, one thing I have noticed is how easy it is to get entangled into things and hide things from parents through all the apps. I have watched a teen girl create a secret facebook page behind her parents back. She was only 13 and has a very low self esteem. She was constantly posting selfies seeking approval and opinions on her looks and began befriending anyone that sent her requests. She then received a friend request she accepted from a man in his 50’s that then started telling her how pretty she was and began asking her personal things. Luckily it was caught early but the authorities had to be brought in on it. I really hate snapchat!!! I know everyone loves using it because of all the filters for taking selfies and that is an excuse some kids give parents to be allowed on it. All my friends are on it and I just want it for the filters to take selfies. All fine and good but considering that the photos only last a short time and then disappear it has opened the door and made it easier for kids to sext each other. I know first hand of teens in the church bathrooms sending photos to each other. Yes folks hard to believe but come on, lets not be naive. Then there is Instagram, which seems to be the other big social app, and along comes Finstagram; a private fake instagram page created by teens using a fictitious name or nickname given to them by their friends and only accessible by a select group of friends. This is where they post about parting, post sexy photos, etc. Then you have the addicting game apps such as Pokemon, yes I know a lot of people play it and love it but I’ve grown to strongly dislike it. I am surrounded by several people (teens and adults alike) that that is all they think about. It’s almost like a drug, they have to get their fix by going to this raid or battling this gym, or I have to maintain my daily streak. I’ve watched teens throw tantrums over parents not driving them to meet up with strangers to join a raid or battle. They have community groups on facebook now to communicate with strangers about meeting up to team up together to defeat the enemy. Then you have youtube which I use often for ministry resources and such but I’ve seen in my own home how entangled my own kids can get in watching videos of some really stupid stuff and they will sit and binge watch this crap. Come on lets face it this is giving kids a false sense of reality and everyone is out to see who can become the next big thing by doing the dumbest thing or trying to set a new trend, or giving bad makeup tips, or pushing ones agenda as whats right and acceptable. A mobile device used for its intended purpose a phone is a great thing especially in cases of emergency but when they became advanced in the newest technology with texting and internet and every kid no matter their age has to have one either to be a baby sitter with games and apps or just to be cool and fit in, I feel it has stolen from our kids by them not being kids. It’s nothing to go by a playground and find it empty, no one plays outside anymore. Social skills are horrible, no one knows how to carry on a real face to face conversation. Everything is done through texting or snapchatting. They aren’t learning how to relate to each other anymore. My husband and I have been youth leaders for the past 25 years and the changes we’ve seen over the years once mobile devices have come into the picture have been crazy. Especially over the last 2 years not just with our teens but the whole church in general. It’s something that has become necessary to do because everything operates through it anymore and it is ever changing and updating. Sorry my post is so long, maybe this wasn’t exactly what you were looking for but I just wanted to share what we’ve seen first hand. Tina – Connellsville, PA

  26. My concern is not being savvy enough to research what they are downloading and the sites they are visiting. We are entering the early teen years and lots of emotions are stirring. Any guidance would be appreciated!
    Montgomery, Tx

  27. Being a parent of a fourteen year old,and a high school teacher, my biggest concern is the lack of parental control over the devices of their teens. Parents need to take control from the beginning by setting limits ( parents own those devices, which should be a privilege, not a right) and enforcing family values, that extend to their devices, which ultimately extends to the outside world. This is not the time to pull away from your teen, but push into them by making their business your business and by being consistent and vigilant.

  28. My biggest concern is that teens aren’t learning how to form true, meaningful friendships where they are accepted and accept others just as they are…without having to uphold a certain image or cool factor. Social media gives them a false sense of connection with others (so they settle and end up being even more isolated and lonely) and then what relationships they do have are propped up by the pressure to maintain a certain image to be liked or accepted. Sad situation.
    -Jeff, Sterling, KS

  29. 1. I hate the distance that mobile devices create within community. Everyone has experienced (and I’m sure guilty of contributing to this) mealtimes and car rides where, instead of growing in friendship and fellowship with those around us, people sit with their eyes glued to their phone. Sure, we may be using our technology to connect with others, but I think that it is of great importance to connect with those you are physically around.

    Dustin, Cimarron, KS

  30. My biggest concern is the culture of performance that mobile devices and social media are creating. While the issues of putting on a good face and presenting the best of yourself have been issues way before technology advanced so much, the combination of platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, combined with the incredibly widespread use of smartphones and smart devices, has only made it more prevalent. Young people are never able to be “off their game” and face a huge pressure to always look good. That’s simply not sustainable.

    Alex, Hillsdale NJ

  31. My biggest concern is that parents are unaware of what goes on in the social media world. For instance, I was visiting my mom while she was watching my 6 year old niece and my 6 year old son. The door was closed and as I opened the door, my niece had a tablet and they were watching YouTube. My immediate response was, “leave this door open and mom do you know that they’re on the web and they could be watching anything?” The very next day, my mom gets a text message from the other grandma, who now has my niece, saying that she caught my 6 year old niece watching porn! This is getting way out of hand and we as parents, teachers, caregivers, any adult need to be more aware of what these innocent minds watch and hear.

    Tamika-Mebane, NC

  32. Lack of parental/community understanding of how it impacts the adolescent brain (i.e. girls and self-esteem) and the importance of teaching digital literacy.

    Angel – Fresno, CA

  33. Lots of concerns and they vary between my kids because they are each different. Mostly the access to information. Porn and other things too. I have a saying, “Everything you need to know is on the Internet, but not everything on the internet you need to know.”

  34. I would say my biggest fear is teens living a secret life through social media. They have the tendency to think that no one will find out what they are doing as long as they keep it private or if they use Snapchat. It’s sad to think they want to live two different ways but it is also hard for their parents or adults in their life to correct them because of it being secret. They may be expressing feelings that need addressed and it is left to their peers to do that task.


  35. I think one of the biggest concerns outside of porn is not knowing how to interact or function outside of the digital realm. I recently had my youth group fill out a survey via paper and pen and the spelling errors were shocking, but when they try to interact while having their cell phones on them it is like they aren’t fully present. We took away everyone’s phone at camp this summer and it was surprising to see the difference in the campers of when they had their phones and when they didn’t. – Bryce in Amarillo, Texas.

  36. The lack of the ability to communicate verbally. Pornography comes in a close second.
    Jake Helms. Pasadena, MD.

  37. That even if I take my child’s away or have filters, the kid standing next to him at school could show him anything at anytime. 🙁

    Next up would be lack of desire/anxiety over having to talk to anyone face to face, including teachers.

    Heidi – Orangevale, CA

  38. 1) being underdeveloped interpersonally, selfishness, lack of compassion empathy, entertainment idolatry….basically everything that draws one away from the Lord and to truly having loving relationships with those around them.

    2) Bjorn – Appleton, WI

    Thank you! excited for the book and the insights – appreciate your ministry.

  39. The cell phone captures our teens attentions, effections, time, hearts, minds and bodies. We need to guide them in valuable minimal usuage. Remind them of face to face communication.

    Mary NJ

  40. My biggest concern is the distraction that they are. My kids both have them now and there are times that I feel like they are missing out on some of life. There’s a separate little world contained in that tiny device. The other thing I worry about is the altered sense of reality that comes from seeing what their friends and acquaintances post on social media. I keep trying to make sure they know that what they see is not a true depiction of real life. Corinna- Perrysburg, Ohio.

  41. Their lack of desire to have a verbal conversation with others and inability to do so.
    Emily – Saint Johns, Fl

  42. (reposted from my facebook comment)

    I am concerned that mobile devices seem to give everyone a free pass at the gift of real human interaction. I am bothered by the impact on kids from watching adults stay tethered to work 24/7 through their phones. And I worry about kids learning to find all their answers by asking Siri instead of dad or their big sister, because life and growth aren’t just about information and emoticons but relationships and emotion. My biggest concern is that our mobile devices make our world 2-dimensional…

    todd from Hudsonville, MI

  43. My biggest fear as a youth pastor is it allows for the further lowering of self esteems as they constantly and instantly are able to compare their life and looks to other teens based entirely on surface value posts.

    Noah – Phenix City, AL

  44. My biggest concern is my youth having boy/girlfriends from other states that they will never meet but they are sexting with each other.
    Jared- Searcy, Arkansas

  45. Social media allows youth to interact with others without the skill of communicating face-to-face. It also encourages instant gratification because they can get what they want when they want it, lack of focus – again because they can click on a new site or game in the blink of an eye, and lack of contentment – when their friends post their ‘highlight reel’ and the youth compare it to their everyday life. We need to learn how to equip our youth with emotional intelligence and relating to others.

  46. Social/Relational Disconnect… It seems that the more social media reaches into the lives of our young adults, the more they pull away from those physically present. I was visiting a young man not long ago, we have what I would consider a strong relationship, but while we were there talking he kept puling out his phone and I had to remind him that I wasn’t there to watch him on his phone. Sid, Moriarty, NM

  47. As kids (and adults) are addicted to their (our) devices, they consume all of our free time thereby rendering time in silence and or solitude a near impossibility which in turn makes knowing themselves(ourselves) or God much more of a challenge if not an impossibility.

  48. I’m concerned our children will not know how to have meaningful one on one conversations with their peers. Their form of communication consist of short phrases, abbreviations and “likes”. We as parents need to continue to enforce time off their phones to have meaningful conversations at the dinner table, in the car and enjoying an activity together.

  49. There is no doubt my biggest concern is young men falling into pornography. It is so easy with a smart phone to fall into that danger. I have no idea why some parents do not try and have safe guards for their teens phones. Sure, there is some things that can simply fall through the cracks and you can’t protect everything, but some parents do not even think about it. Part of that may be that some fathers are not aware of how easy it is to access porn. It is not just having a safe web browser, but accessing some of the porn that you can see on social media. As far as I know, there is nothing that blocks that type of stuff for browsing through social media. Another reason pornography is my biggest concern for a teenager and his phone is because of how much it will mess up his future and maybe possible ministry. People have no idea just how much porn it can mess up a mind, marriage, and ministry. And most of the time, it starts when you are a young man. As we all know, we need as many Godly men that we can get in this world. Men that are not just settling in life, but strive to follow God and have a personal relationship with Him. I truly believe that you cannot be addicted to porn, and have a faithful relationship with God at the same time, much less, have success in the ministry if that is what God has called one to do. It seems like I hear of someone falling from the ministry every week as a result of sexual sin. I believe that starts from not being aware enough of the things you can get into on a smart phone. That desire just builds, especially if it is not dealt with. A teenager can save himself/herself from so much heartache if a relationship with God is built so that that temptation on the phone can be resisted because of a strong relationship with God.

    Stillwater, Oklahoma

  50. My biggest concern is my teen receiving and/or sending inappropriate pictures.
    Melissa, TN

  51. My biggest concern with young people today is their easy access to pornography. They lack prudence in using their mobile device and left to themselves, they have the way to access undesirable things. No filter. No discernement. Always based on how they felt like doing or hearing or watching. In one way or another these formed their values, their behavior. It is quite sad that sometimes this device (mobile phone), though a gift in communication, has become a great influence in deforming our young people.

    Jonathan, I just want to participate though I am from the Philippines.

    Eunice Basanes, Philippines

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