Digital Communications Yesterday and Today


Let’s start this week’s post off with an exercise. Think back to when you purchased or received your first cellphone. Think about the physical and visual aspect of that device. Think about the screen size and resolution, as well as the device’s storage and data processing capabilities. Depending on your age (and financial status), your experience may be similar to mine. I purchased my first cellphone in 2001. I was 19-years-old and had been living on my own for almost a year. I bought a Samsung A460 flip phone. It was silver and very small. When using the phone, the background light lit blue and the phone used one font type and color – black. I thought I was THE MAN with that phone. I had my contacts, at least one (very basic) game, and even had Garfield as my screensaver. Yes, Garfield: The lasagna-loving cat. That phone was simple, but it had just want I needed. Furthermore, at that time, digital marketing and communications came in the form of text messaging only. (i.e., “Text <insert promotional code here> to <insert short code here>”) Overtime, I upgraded my phone and went to a full-color phone, then an MDA, before buying my first iPhone in 2009. It was not until purchasing my first iPhone did I realize the power that such a small device possessed.


I did not get my first cell phone until I was 19-years-old, but nowadays, children as young as five own cellular devices that are 10 times more powerful than my now obsolete flip phone. Even my daughters, who are about to turn 13, have had their own cell phones since they were 10. My wife and I bought our girls cellphones in order to communicate with them, but it is amazing how much they know about their phones and what they are able to tell us about ours.

We live in a technologically advanced society in which children are being exposed to the Internet and digital marketing and communications at a young age. According to Amanda Lenhart, Senior Researcher and Director of Teens & Technology at Pew Research Center, 78% of teens have a cellphone, and about three in four teens ages 12 to 17 access the Internet via a mobile device (cell phones, tablets, and other mobile devices). I see teenagers being connected to the Internet as a pro and a con for multiple reasons.  A pro is the fact that these young adults have infinite knowledge at their fingertips. However, access to this power must be monitored to protect them from bullies and predators.


Is it ethical for a company to use the Internet to market its products to teenagers? This and many versions of this question have been debated for years. Some marketers believe that marketing to children and teenagers is necessary in order to build a brand loyalty, while others see devising a marketing strategy that is designed to influence children’s thinking as immoral.  

It is everyone’s responsibility to make sure that we continue to follow what is good and what is right. Marketers need to know what could be considered too far and how their messaging could positively or negatively influence a teenager who is still trying to find his/her identify. Furthermore, as parents, it is our job to closely monitor the things to which our children are exposed.





5 thoughts on “Digital Communications Yesterday and Today

  1. Interesting read! My kids, ages 9 and 13 do not have their own cellphone, but do have iPads and iPhones without a phone plan that only work on our home network. So far, this is all they have needed. I’m sure true cellphones will be in their future sooner rather than later.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My son is almost 9 and has had an ipad for at least 2 years. It’s amazing how he can be playing a game in his age range and will have an add pop up for another game that should be played by someone older. This alone takes a lot of monitoring. I am a bit afraid when it is time for a cell phone. Though he is on wifi only now. A cell phone with access to more is a bit scary.

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  3. I don’t remember how old I was when I got my first cell phone so kudos to you. Lol I do believe that starting kids off so young with a cell phone doesn’t teach them how to communicate effectively. They learn to use text to express there emotions and it can be miss read. I know I have miss read a text or two. Yes we want to be able to contact our children and know where they are. But we as the adults have a part to play in training our children on how to use it for information! And show tgem that the cells are not better then humana interaction.

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  4. Hi Oniel,

    It was a good run down memory lane thinking about the phones that I have had in the past. My favorite was a Sanyo SC-6000 I received as a warranty replacement. As far as marketing to teens, it is not all too bad in my opinion. Us parents have a significant role to play in making sure that our children are safe. You are right about that!

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  5. I didn’t have a cell phone until I was (I think) in college… Maybe when I got my first car, but even then I was only to use it to let my mom know if my plans were changing or if there was an emergency. It was not a very special phone. As I got older, I knew that I could handle having the internet on my phone and I knew what should and should not be on my phone. I can only imagine what some parents go through when they decide to give their children almost unlimited access to the internet and the bombardment of advertisements. I personally don’t want my future children to have access to the internet for a long time – I know how much of a “addiction” it can be and I would rather them not become obsessed with knowing everything about everyone at a young age.. And I would also want to shelter them from all the horrible possibilities that social media can create… no one should be bullied to the point of suicide over social media.

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