From Bye Bye Birdie to The Baby-Sitters Club to Mean Girls and everything in between, the cultural history of teen and tween girls and the telephone is long and storied. But how do the girls of today use the phone when it is no longer a landline but rather a back-pocket accessory?
Generation Z, the first generation of digital natives, has a relationship with phones and the internet like no other generation before. Notably, it is the first generation to learn to navigate an iPhone at the same age they learn to walk. While many say the proliferation of loneliness and unhappiness among this rising generation is phone-related, it’s safe to say the phone is not going away — and if anything, it’s becoming a stronger staple of modern life.
To take a look into the contemporary relationship between teen girls and their phones, Yahoo Lifestyle asked three girls from across the country to track their phone usage for a day. Gone are the days of phone booths, and hamburger phones in bedrooms; but more than ever, a phone is a young girl’s connection to her world.
Fredrike Giron, 16, New York City
Fred Giron is an 11th grader in Manhattan. She loves soccer and The Handmaid’s Tale. On average, she spends two or more hours a day on her phone. “I get so sick of being on my phone sometimes,” she says. This is her day in screenshots.
7:10 a.m.: When I first wake up, I usually just like to see what notifications I’ve gotten since falling asleep. I hate immediately going on my phone, so I’ll quickly check the time and see if there are any urgent messages.
12 p.m.: I checked my email, mostly just to delete junk. I don’t check my email too often unless there is someone I have to respond to.
3 p.m.: I went to the dance parade! The dancers were fabulously dressed, so of course I had to take a picture.
6:07 p.m.: As the day is winding down, I’ll check Twitter because that’s one of my sources of news. I love to see others’ reactions to huge events. Twitter definitely isn’t my favorite social media app, purely because I can’t bring myself to check it enough, but it’s a great way to snoop.
8:59 p.m.: I texted my friend to check in on her birthday party.
10:11 p.m.: And finally, when I lay down to go to bed, I had to delete Instagram. I felt sick after a day of constant checking, and suddenly felt a swarm of anxiety. It helps me to sleep better knowing it’s no longer on my phone, even though I’ll end up re-downloading it the next day.
Audrey Farmer, 11, Kansas City, Mo.
Audrey Farmer is a sixth grader in Kansas City, Mo., and a proud Little Sister in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America program. On average, she spends three hours a day on her phone. “I can only download apps with my parents’ permission, and we usually aren’t allowed to use [our phones] in school,” she explains. This is her day in screenshots.
Wake up: Just watched some YouTube for 15 minutes.
12 p.m.: Played around on Snapchat for a bit.
3 p.m.: Took a pic of my family while playing Clue.
6:09 p.m.: Just checked YouTube for notifications.
9 p.m.: Snapchat!!!! Just checking friends’ stories.
9:53 p.m.: Just checked YouTube one last time before bed.
Ina Bhoopalam, 17, Lincoln, Neb.
Ina Bhoopalam is 17 years old and lives in Lincoln, Neb., “the Cornhusker State!!” She is an activist, and the president of Girl Up Lincoln Public Schools — a United Nations campaign helping girls take action to change the world. Ina says she typically spends two to three hours a day on her phone, and that it’s a key tool in her activism work, whether that’s organizing meetings with state representatives or fighting for refugee education. This is her day in screenshots.
7:34 a.m.: I just woke up and got ready, and now I’m reading CNN’s “Top 5” to get up-to-date on the news before I head to my AP test. I’m so glad to see one of the biggest feminist movements — #MeToo — in the news again. Seeing action being taken against injustices never fails to fuel me up in the morning.
11:01 a.m.: I just got back from my AP test, and I’m checking out some certificates that my team made for our first Girl Up end-of-the-year awards banquet! They look great, and I can’t wait to present them to the powerful youth fighting for gender equality in my community and around the world.
2:56 p.m.: I’m on my way to a meeting with my secretary, assistant, and the rest of my presidential team at Girl Up. Starbucks is my go-to coffee shop/meeting place, and I’m ordering a sweet cream cold brew online so it’s ready as soon as I get there!
6:31 p.m.: I’ve finished most of my meetings for the day, and I’m on the way to go grad party “hopping” with my friends. I have dozens to go to, and even more activist graduation cords and donation jars to hand out.
9:11 p.m.: I usually check my email six to seven times a day. I love using Google Inbox because it filters my messages, prioritizes the most important ones, lets me “snooze” an email if I’m not ready to answer it, reminds me when to “follow up,” and even writes automatic replies for me! It’s one of my most useful and favorite apps — it saves me SO much time!
1:49 a.m.: I’m about to go to bed, and I’m listening to Apple Music’s “Alternative Hits” playlist to de-stress before going to sleep.