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Teens & cell phones: I stand corrected.
Old 06-04-2008, 05:53 PM   #1
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Teens & cell phones: I stand corrected.

I've posted this on another forum but I thought I'd repeat it here with an update.

I used to be one of those parents who discouraged our teen from getting a cell phone, and now I have to admit it: I was wrong. Let me explain the situation for those of you who are still attempting to have your teen win the "last one in the world to get a cell phone" competition.

Throughout our years of naval service, whenever spouse or I have had an official cell phone (or a beeper or even a handheld transceiver) we've been sorely punished for the "privilege". In ER we've had no motivation to repeat the experience, and our lifestyle doesn't require a cell phone. We're not separated by work. We can't really get to the middle of nowhere on this island, let alone break down there. It feels good not to have to care for another material possession, let alone pay a monthly bill for the burden. So no cell phones for us.

For years our kid has lusted after the shiny objects given to other kids, and for years we've told her "Get a really good job and save your money". For years the other kids were only supposed to use their cell phone to call home (or to be called by their parents) but now in high school they're added to their parent's family plan and they make as many calls (and texts and photos) as they want. Very few of them pay for it. There's also a sort of juvenile (in all senses of the word) telecom arms race to see what Mommy & Daddy have handed out for birthdays, Christmas, good grades, smoking cessation, sobriety, celibacy, or other incentives. We told her that we could understand her needing a cell phone for college, when phones would be hard to find, but we didn't see any reason for it while she was living at home and going to school only a mile away.

Last month our kid's boss gave her a meritorious 75 cents/hour raise, so our sophomore bought herself a pay-as-you-go cell phone. She estimates that she'll be spending about $30/month, which she pointed out is only ~$4/month more than our landline.

She says her tipping point was the raise, but she's noticed for months that her friends coordinate almost exclusively by cell. She was always the last to get the word about a pop quiz or impromptu socializing. She also says that the school's pay phones are usually vandalized and even the local shopping center's phones don't always work. She either has to plan ahead (duh), find a phone to check in, or miss out. Now she's solved all her problems-- although it cost most of her raise.

Her initiative was a total surprise but definitely a pleasant one. It's wonderful to watch these little wing-flaps of independence from the parental nest. She says she's been doing her own research for weeks and was thinking of asking for more allowance, but she was having trouble making it sound like justification instead of lifestyle begging. We asked a bunch of "What if?" questions and she seems to have the right answers (but what the heck do we Luddite parents know). AT&T sure knew how to hit her demographic sweet spot.

Having your own cell phone: $15.
Using your own phone: $1/day plus 10 cents/call.
Not having to beg from Mommy & Daddy: Priceless!

~800 days to college...

UPDATE:
First, it's a great relief to no longer answer our house phone when we're expecting a call, only to hear a pubescent male's cracking voice squeak out "Uhm, uh, is, uh, er, your daughter there? Can I, ah, um, speak to her?" It was amusing once but now she can do her heavy breathing on her own phone.

Second, our kid does well academically but a chronic problem in middle/high school has been group projects. She really wants to get an "A" so she always ends up in charge of the results, and considering the corresponding lack of diligence of most of her alleged "friends" I think that's a reasonable decision. Some slackers try to take advantage of her "I'll do it!!" eagerness, while others are just too disorganized to make more than a token effort. A few days before deadline the angst & drama start to build, and by the night before the pressure is intense.

She tries to remind people to turn in their parts so that she can write it up and put it all together, but it's always a hassle and she's always crazed & exasperated. Most of the time she's sending stern e-mails or MySpace notes (that the kids never read) or trying to call their home phones (that, like ours, go straight to voicemail). Total frustration.

That all ended with this week's project, and it's all because of the cell phone. It turns out that teenagers never really give each other their phone numbers-- they just call each other's phones and save them to memory. Now our kid has a roster of a dozen numbers that are surgically attached to a corresponding teen's anatomy, are always answered, and can't easily be evaded. On the last deadline night in less than 10 minutes she was able to "reach out and touch" five people, remind them what they owed her, and promise that it would take less time to get it done than it would to make up excuses about it. (I wonder where she heard that logic.) Everything was turned in by dinnertime and she'd finished it off an hour later. No angst, no drama, no craziness. She was almost as happy as we were.

If I'd realized that a cell phone was the only obstacle to our family harmony, I would've handed one out with her 8th-grade textbooks. She's learned a lot of painful lessons about project management, but they would've been learned much sooner (and much less painfully) with a little technology on her side.

So maybe a cell phone isn't such a bad idea for a teenager after all. But she still has a tremendous sense of satisfaction from earning her own money to buy it all by herself, and I'm glad we didn't accidentally deprive her of that experience.
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Old 06-04-2008, 09:22 PM   #2
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Nords....

let me rebut a bit.. (I am hungry and want to eat)....

First, if she is with almost anybody... they have a cell and she can borrow for a quick call home IF NEEDED...

Second... she could have sent a 'text message' to their cell from your computer... you do not need a cell to do this...

Third... if YOU had paid for it and given it to her, she would not have learned the valuable lesson she did... learn where you want to spend your hard earned money... she has decided that it is a phone... since it is her money.. not a problem

Fourth... there are WAY to many parents giving WAY to much crap to their kids... except love...

And my last rant... there are WAY to many parents that have not taught their kids the hard life lessons... and they do not have any work ethic.. expect to be 'at the top' right out of school... to get PRAISE all the time...and to have mommy look out for them... I saw a new magazine show where they said some mother called her kids boss because her kid got a bad review... like they were still in school and calling the teacher to complain!!!!


So, my vote is a big NO for giving your kid a cell phone...

PS... I forgot to mention the constant text messages that go back and forth... I was visiting a friend who has two teenagers.... their phones were in their hands the whole time and they were not paying attention to the group... but kept looking at their phone.... I walked over and took them... boy, WWIII was about to start!!! But I did not give in... the Grinch that stole the cell phone
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Old 06-04-2008, 09:31 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Texas Proud View Post
And my last rant... there are WAY to many parents that have not taught their kids the hard life lessons... and they do not have any work ethic.. expect to be 'at the top' right out of school... to get PRAISE all the time...and to have mommy look out for them... I saw a new magazine show where they said some mother called her kids boss because her kid got a bad review... like they were still in school and calling the teacher to complain!!!!
Do you have kids? I do, and neither they nor any of their friends are anything like the stereotype that you describe. Young people today face a workplace environment and social environment much harder and much less forgiving than that confronted by most of us older boomers.

From what I have seen they are hard working, smart, and realistic. If I had had half the work ethic that my kids have I'd be rich today.

We boomers, not our children, are likely the goofiest generation that America ever has produced, or perhaps ever will produce.

Ha
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Old 06-05-2008, 09:39 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Texas Proud View Post
PS... I forgot to mention the constant text messages that go back and forth... I was visiting a friend who has two teenagers.... their phones were in their hands the whole time and they were not paying attention to the group... but kept looking at their phone.... I walked over and took them... boy, WWIII was about to start!!! But I did not give in... the Grinch that stole the cell phone
Did you give them a spanking afterwards? I think you were out of line, since they're not your kids (and you weren't babysitting or anything). What was your friend doing this whole time? Would you ever confiscate your friend's cell phone if he was doing the same thing, or do you feel entitled to enforce your rules on his kids because they're teenagers?
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Old 06-05-2008, 10:22 AM   #5
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Nords - how does her cell work for text messages? my teen hardly "talks" - just text's incessently...we were burned when he first got the phone and didn't comprehend a kid could text other kids - 2000 i think the first month! so she may see her plan drifting toward texts rather than minutes - which i think is not as convenient on a pay as you go plan...

anyhow - congrats to you for holding out for so long and having such a considerate daughter! she'll sure have lots of stories to tell as she gets older..
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Old 06-05-2008, 11:25 AM   #6
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Do you have kids? I do, and neither they nor any of their friends are anything like the stereotype that you describe. Young people today face a workplace environment and social environment much harder and much less forgiving than that confronted by most of us older boomers.

From what I have seen they are hard working, smart, and realistic. If I had had half the work ethic that my kids have I'd be rich today.

We boomers, not our children, are likely the goofiest generation that America ever has produced, or perhaps ever will produce.

Ha

Will have soon... getting married later this year...

I was saying what I saw on the news magazine... and they were interviewing the kids just out of college who are telling employers what they need to do to attract this talent...

I did not say they were not smart... just that their expectations are a lot different than what we would think...
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Old 06-05-2008, 11:29 AM   #7
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Did you give them a spanking afterwards? I think you were out of line, since they're not your kids (and you weren't babysitting or anything). What was your friend doing this whole time? Would you ever confiscate your friend's cell phone if he was doing the same thing, or do you feel entitled to enforce your rules on his kids because they're teenagers?
First, very few of my friends have cell phones... so it is not a problem with them... her mother was laughing at me for doing it.... I have a good relationship with the young lady and her mother.. she said she knew she was doing 'wrong' at the time and said she would not continue to do it...

So don't get your panties in a knot for what I do with my friends and their children... I know what I can 'get away' with and what I can not...
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Old 06-05-2008, 11:32 AM   #8
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Nords - how does her cell work for text messages? my teen hardly "talks" - just text's incessently...we were burned when he first got the phone and didn't comprehend a kid could text other kids - 2000 i think the first month! so she may see her plan drifting toward texts rather than minutes - which i think is not as convenient on a pay as you go plan...

anyhow - congrats to you for holding out for so long and having such a considerate daughter! she'll sure have lots of stories to tell as she gets older..

Yep... a guy at work has a daughter that can get 3,000 to 3,500 per month... he paid for the unlimited text messages....

OH... to Abru... forgot to mention that the mother took the cell phone away after finding out her daughter racked up $1200 worth of text messages and hid the bills from her for a couple of month as she continued to rack up the charges...
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Old 06-05-2008, 11:38 AM   #9
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Nords - how does her cell work for text messages? my teen hardly "talks" - just text's incessently...we were burned when he first got the phone and didn't comprehend a kid could text other kids - 2000 i think the first month! so she may see her plan drifting toward texts rather than minutes - which i think is not as convenient on a pay as you go plan...

anyhow - congrats to you for holding out for so long and having such a considerate daughter! she'll sure have lots of stories to tell as she gets older..
Depending on where you are, there are some companies that are moving to unlimited everything (text and calls) for such and such a month. Sprint has theirs for $99 a month(text, web, calls, everything for them), Cricket has theirs starting at ~$35 a month (very, very basic plan with no voicemail for the basic plans and at ~45 a month you get everything), and a really popular one in the very most southeast with some fairly well known singer as their spokesman.
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Old 06-05-2008, 03:33 PM   #10
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Watch out for those super-basic plans, though. As I've heard from my asian friends, the US is ridiculously behind with cell-based business plans. They still charge for ingoing and outgoing text messages, and a basic plan will charge at least .15c per message! "Pre-paid" plans roll over and force you to "reload" your credit even when you don't want to pay, and especially inflate costs for services like directory assistance! Why else are all these huge free-DA services like 1-800-free-411 or all the others so popular? They see the fat-cat behavior of the major carriers and are poking at that soon-to-burst bubble.
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Old 06-05-2008, 06:03 PM   #11
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If I'd realized that a cell phone was the only obstacle to our family harmony, I would've handed one out with her 8th-grade textbooks.
Does DD lurk here? If so, you might get a "Gee, I'm thinking that my cell phone is too expensive -- wanna chip in some?"
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Old 06-05-2008, 06:32 PM   #12
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Will have soon... getting married later this year...

I was saying what I saw on the news magazine... and they were interviewing the kids just out of college who are telling employers what they need to do to attract this talent...

I did not say they were not smart... just that their expectations are a lot different than what we would think...
Congrats on your upcoming acquisition of spouse w/children!

The news magazine probably interviewed dozens of boring responsible good kids with their feet on the ground before they found some that would make good copy.
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Old 06-05-2008, 06:54 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by haha View Post
Do you have kids? I do, and neither they nor any of their friends are anything like the stereotype that you describe. Young people today face a workplace environment and social environment much harder and much less forgiving than that confronted by most of us older boomers.

From what I have seen they are hard working, smart, and realistic. If I had had half the work ethic that my kids have I'd be rich today.

We boomers, not our children, are likely the goofiest generation that America ever has produced, or perhaps ever will produce.

Ha
Were you ever poor? I thought I was middle class when I was growing up - lived in an apartment - shared a room with my brother 10x12' until he got drafted. I thought people who lived in houses were rich. Started working when I was 15 (at least 30hrs/wk - I forged my working papers). I had to pay for my play clothes and any other spending money - paid for my college by working. I only found out later that we were poor and all that parents gave their children.
You are assuming that all children have cell phones and act like those in teen movies. Today's children do live without cell phones or and the other stereotypes from TV.

Cell phones are sold to teenagers based upon fear - being out of the "in crowd". The fear tactic of an emergency is false also - these things were addressed before there were cell phone.

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Texas Proud,
You did those children a favor - hopefully they will learn that they are disrespecting others by ignoring them.
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Old 06-05-2008, 06:57 PM   #14
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Nords - how does her cell work for text messages? my teen hardly "talks" - just text's incessently....
Aren't you the person who believes we all should talk out our problems/issues. Maybe we should wait until you can get your teen to talk before we follow.
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Old 06-05-2008, 10:48 PM   #15
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The news magazine probably interviewed dozens of boring responsible good kids with their feet on the ground before they found some that would make good copy.
Oh yea.... I agree..... but they do have some general trends like us baby boomers, Gen X... the next one I don't know their name... and now the Millinium (sp??).....

And I have a few nephews and nieces and most are very industrious and smart and are not like what was shown.... but it is funny that they even think that it is mostly true... my nephew who is now in college was always able to get a job and get promoted and raises while in HS and college because HE SHOWS UP TO WORK.... what a concept....

But if there is smoke there is fire... and I have heard enough people who hire tell stories that there has to be some kernel of truth to the claim...


OK.. edit to add another comment... I went to the movies the other day and was waiting in line to get my ticket... it was going slow... I looked around the people in front of me and what did I see The young lady selling the tickets kept looking at her cell phone she was holding in her hand to read text messages... it looked like she was texting back, but not sure.... not paying much attention to the customer and what movie they wanted...

And I have even had to ask (and yes, nicely as I do not know them) some of them to put their cell phone away INSIDE the movie as they are texting away and that dang light is a big distraction....
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Old 06-06-2008, 07:22 PM   #16
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Depending on where you are, there are some companies that are moving to unlimited everything (text and calls) for such and such a month. Sprint has theirs for $99 a month(text, web, calls, everything for them), Cricket has theirs starting at ~$35 a month (very, very basic plan with no voicemail for the basic plans and at ~45 a month you get everything), and a really popular one in the very most southeast with some fairly well known singer as their spokesman.
yeah, his dad had signed up for some plan that was around 1500 or something but quickly found out (beyond belief) that wasn't enough..he's on unlimited now!
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Old 06-06-2008, 07:24 PM   #17
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Aren't you the person who believes we all should talk out our problems/issues. Maybe we should wait until you can get your teen to talk before we follow.
hey, were you holding that in your pocket for just the right moment? Are you harboring some issues toward me? Should we talk about it?

It's still considered communication, just using his thumbs, not his mouth - which in his case is not that bad because he's a mumbler...
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Old 06-06-2008, 09:31 PM   #18
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It's still considered communication, just using his thumbs, not his mouth - which in his case is not that bad because he's a mumbler...
I said to my wife about our #2 son- "Why does he mumble so unintelligibly?"

"Have you ever heard yourself talk she replied?"

Ha
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Old 06-07-2008, 01:24 AM   #19
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Perhaps my daughter is not the norm but: She's had a cell phone since she was 11 (13 now) & I'm glad to let her have it for only $10 month extra on the family plan.

She's not allowed to text (& surprisingly has little interest), really doesn't like to just "gab" on the phone a lot, and is a responsible straight-A AP student.

Of primary importance to me is that, as a girl and starting to go to some social functions, school trips, church trips, & other people's houses on her own, we have discussed & she well knows that if she is ever in a situation that is starting to feel uncomfortable & she thinks she wants to leave for whatever, she can just make an excuse to go to the bathroom or somewhere, give us a quiet ring & we'll come get her anytime/anyplace with an excuse that won't let the hosts or other folks at the event know the real reason she is leaving.

Some may criticize me for this, but as an added bonus I think is that she also gets a certain amount of pride in being one of the many kids nowadays that has her own phone - in the socially self-conscious world of pre-teen & teen girls where everybody is concerned about numerous things about themselves or their families that they fear others might perceive as shortcomings, once again I'm glad to give her for such a cheap price one less thing to be self-consicous about.

I've also let her know that this privilege is part of her reward from us for being as responsible person and good student as she is.

I've always tried to instill in her (especially as she gets older) that the more mature & responsible she acts, the more we will treat her as a mature & responsible adult, but when she behaves immature & irresponsible the more we as parents must step in and treat her as a child.


(OK - enough braggin on my kid now )
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Old 06-07-2008, 03:10 AM   #20
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Some may criticize me for this, but as an added bonus I think is that she also gets a certain amount of pride in being one of the many kids nowadays that has her own phone - in the socially self-conscious world of pre-teen & teen girls where everybody is concerned about numerous things about themselves or their families that they fear others might perceive as shortcomings, once again I'm glad to give her for such a cheap price one less thing to be self-consicous about.
Since you wrote about it... I will comment... don't take my head off for this...

But, you are saying that she is taking pride that she is 'better' than someone else because she has a phone that cost $10 per month? I am replacing your word of pride with what I see it as being... And she has this pride in an object that she does nothing to pay for.... just a gift from mom and dad... just curious about what you are trying to teach her...

I have said this a long time ago.... I was in the grocery store parking lot and had a flat tire... and this Mercedes SL convertible (the $80k to $100K kind) was parked next to me.... brand new... and while I was staring at my flat tire... this high school girl came out of the pizza place and was 'showing off' her new car... not her parents which she was able to drive... but HER new car.... and she was very proud of it.... and you could tell the other girls were envious of her... I felt sorry for her... because her expectations (IMO) were going to be so out of whack that she will have trouble in a normal relationship with a normal guy who makes a normal salary... I am not saying that this is your daughter... but having a 'status symbol' to me is the start....

NOW, I had two of my sisters on my case tonight when I said my soon to be son would not be getting one at 10... and maybe not till 16 or 17... so I KNOW I am at the very fringe in my thinking... but it is the way I think... to each their own...

BTW, I am glad to hear that your daughter has not make it a part of her anatomy like so many of the kids I have seen... so I will agree with you that she does seem responsible.... good for you!!!
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