individualization and the conquest of the tools of communications by the 12-22 years

What are the roles played in the conquest of the autonomy of adolescents and young adults (12-22 years) the mobile phone, the internet, electronic communication, instant messaging ? This is the question that arises Olivier Martin in an article in the journal Networks , 2007 (n°145-146, vol 6/7, p 335-366) ” the conquest of The electronic tools of the individualization among the 12-22 year-old “.

It is for the author to speculate on the uses of communication tools among young people 12 to 22 years[1] and investigate how the tools of communication to build the process of individualization of children vis-à-vis their parents. For this, we must highlight the real use of these communication tools by young people, the constraints and limitations placed on uses they make of them.

The information technology and communication are used by the majority of children and young adults, and their use is growing with their age. The mobile with the SMS function is a privileged tool to communicate with best friends, boyfriends and girlfriends closer, and to maintain these links. The girls differ in the use of mobile phones : girls are earlier than boys users very regular and mobile at any age, most avid users of SMS. The author shows that ” for all age groups, the share of girls passing or receiving more than two calls per day (average over several months of observation) is 73 %, whereas it is only 53 % among boys. “

Among all of the age group 12-22 years, the internet and, with it, the e-mail and chat, are instruments less universally employees that the laptop. The inequality of access to the internet is far more important than the one about the laptop.

To realize this, we borrow from The French observatory of inequalities, some of the passages insightful and we would refer you to the website for additional information. “The new technologies are spreading in French society : 75 % of French people own a mobile phone, 66 % have a computer, and 55 % are equipped with Internet at home, according to the Crédoc. […] Despite the rapid growth, the rate of home Internet access is still far from being generalised. At the global level, 55 % of the population had access in 2007, according to the Crédoc. Only 47 % of manual workers, compared to 81 % of the frames are connected among them. However, the differences diminish rapidly : between 2004 and 2007, the percentage of Internet access of employees has increased by 31 percentage points and 20 percentage points for employees, much more than frameworks. “

Equipment rate of Internet connection at home by age

Unit : %





12-17 years





The 18-24 age group





25-39 years





40-59 years





60-69 years





70 years and more





Source : Crédoc, surveys the Conditions of life and aspirations of the French 2007, field: all of the population

Within households, the children to access and use the computer and the internet very early. “The average age of first access, must be significantly lower than 12 years. If the laptop seems to be a tool of the adolescents rather than young children, access to the internet is done sooner “

This is the age group of the intermediate (15-17 years) which is the largest user of communication tools. In fact, while mobile is increasingly used when the children grow up, this is not the case of computers, the use of which tends to not really increase, or to diminish after the age of 18. Another difference with the mobile phone, the uses of the computer and its communication tools do not vary very significantly according to sex.

The individualisation of progressive communication tools

Olivier Martin shows in this article that the mobile and the computer are gradually becoming of the individual tools. If 19 % of 12-14 year olds share the laptop that they use with other members of the household and are secondary users, this is the case for only 11% of 15-17 year-olds, and 3 % of 18-22 years. Thus, with age the mobile becomes more and more personal. Even the possession of an individual e-mail address, not shared with his parents, for example, is more common in age groups older. “This individualization of the e-mail address (at least an address) goes hand in hand with the individualisation of the computer itself. “This individualization extends to the age groups the highest to the possession of own computer : with 21% of 12-14 year olds have a computer considered to be “personal” at their home, it is 53 % of 18-22 year-olds who are in this case. Between these two situations, there is a set of modes of individualization of the devices. Olivier Martin distinguishes between three situations, related to three age periods : the early ages, the child-adolescent has access to a computer shared with parents and brothers and sisters, then the children have personal accounts on this shared computer, sometimes protected by a password and finally the computer becomes individual. It should be noted that the individualization of the tools, the communication often goes hand in hand with the ownership of a personal space and, in particular, of the chamber, which becomes with age personal. 75 % of the 17-22 years of age compared with 63% of the 12-16-year-olds have a bedroom where they only sleep.

The personal computer that the teen has at home is a tool that is far more easily controllable by parents and by the mobile. There is a gradual reflux of the parental control. “If 93 % of parents of children aged 12 to 14 years and 76 % of those with children 15-17 years of age looking to know what these kids are doing on the internet, this is no longer the case for only 16 % of parents of children 18-22 years old “. In the same way, the parents will allow less and less time to respond to the mobile phone of their child, as well as their remarks on their uses of this phone. Important note from the author : the indicators of the survey do not allow to highlight any significant differences in the terms and conditions of the parental control depending on the social hierarchy : at the scale of the author’s data, the control operates in a similar manner in all the social circles.

[1] A caution of methodological importance governs the article, 12-22 years on which the survey presented have been divided into three age groups : 12-14 years, 15-17 years and finally the 18-22 years. This is both to respond to the statistical requirements and to take into account the three social situations and educational for different age ranges involved : the college students ; high school students ; young adults. “We are not ignorant of the abuse of language and reductionism in sociological there is to use these three adjectives. We use for convenience in asking the reader not to forget that the group of 15-17 years also brings together a few individuals still enrolled in college or already out of the education system, and that the group of 18-22 years is also made up of high school students and a group of young people to the statutes varied (students, workers, unemployed…). “

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