9 Things We Learned About Phones From a Teenager

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High school is pretty much how you remember it, but the mean girls don't have to look you in the eyes anymore.

There has been a lot of back and forth about how teenagers do and don't use social media recently. The conclusions? Don't generalize. Ask teenagers what they think. Listen. So, because phone behavior is endlessly fascinating to the New Tech City team, we decided to do just that.

On this week's episode, 16-year-old Grace was kind enough to keep an audio diary of everything she does on her phone. Hear her navigate through endless app alerts, group messaging drama, clueless grown-ups, that bizarre old technology of email and even how she handles a sext request. Grace has some pretty good advice all around, even if you don't know any teens:

1. Cyberbullying is, more often than not, minor burns.

“Of course people say like snotty things...or someone will unfollow someone on Instagram or something like that, but its not, like, awful awful like ‘Go kill yourself.’”

2. Not every picture goes on Snapchat or Instagram.


In fact, some get locked away. Grace uses the Photo Vault app, which puts pics behind a passcode. It’s free and can be downloaded here.

3. Anonymous Apps like Whisper and Yik Yak? Way over.


Grace did do a little Yakking on Yik Yak, but once too many people joined in on the anonymous posting, "it was just bizarre." Like Tamagotchi and hairbands in Central New Jersey, anonymous apps have come in and out of style.

4.  There's always one kid making everyone jealous.

In Grace’s town, getting a phone at the end of elementary school or beginning of middle school is the norm.

But: “There is always, like, one kid who gets it super early.” 

5. Sexting is not widespread (or, at least, not taken seriously).


6. There is still paper in school.

Besides essays (which are typed, 12-point font, and double-spaced) Grace’s assignments have her writing out her work by hand.

7. There's a trick to recharging your phone faster during class.

Putting your phone on airplane mode before plugging it in speeds up charge times. You might not be able to get Internet or texts, but if you’re in a rush, this is the way to go. This video by CNET last year showed a phone charging a whole four minutes sooner in airplane mode.

Turning it off completely would go even faster. But then, you know, your phone is off.

8. Acronyms: so LOL.

Despite articles like this warning parents about all the acronyms kids use, Grace said it's not the case. Out of the list, she says she only sees “THOT” and “420.”

“These rest are made up or weirdos use,” Grace said. She's got some new ones though that she and friends make up as they go along. 

9. Trust your kids.

This is the most important. Grace advises parents to respect their kids’ phones, unless they have reason to believe their child needs help.

“Not every kid is sexting. Your kid is probably not sexting. Don’t go through their phones, that’s not good... even if you have good intentions, it’s going to backfire.”

It really is probably more innocent than you think.

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