I Don’t Know About Giving Our Teen Cell a Phone (the beeper of today)
Did you have a beeper when you were a teenager? I can remember begging my parents for one. Their response? Plain and simple – no. Why? I had no occupation that required me to have a beeper. At the time I was sure I was the biggest cornball on the planet. All of my friends not only had a beeper, but their parents used it to get in touch with them. I did eventually get one (but that’s another story). I look back on it now and think my parents were right. Growing up, nine times out of ten I was in the house by eight o’clock. If my parents needed to reach me immediately all they had to do was walk a few steps into another room of the house. I was of no use to any friends who would need to beep me late at night for help (see my earlier note about being in the house most nights by eight o’clock). At the end of the day if anyone wanted to get in contact with me all they had to do was call me at the house. I am feeling a bit of Deja vu now with our oldest asking for a cell phone in practically every conversation we have with her: Me: How are you doing in your classes? She: Fine. If I get straight A’s can I get a phone? Me: How was school today? She: It was the worse day ever? Me: Why? (trying to hide blooming panic) She: Because the teacher asked everybody to pull out their phones for an activity and I was the only one who didn’t have one (which I am sure she was not). ‘People don’t talk on the phone mom, they text.’ She whines when she tells me that she can’t talk to her friends because she doesn’t have a cell phone. Our oldest does not yet have a cell phone partly because just like my parents and my beeper request, I don’t see the need for her to have one. She’s picked up and taken to school. Any extracurricular activity that she has we have to take her to. But mostly she doesn’t have a cell phone because I have a mama cell phone phobia fueled by my efforts to do the very best I can to keep my daughter from doing something that she can’t take back. Like pregnancy, STD’s and naked pictures floating through the internet via Instagram and Facebook. I’ve seen grown women make bad choices with cell phones and pictures. My thinking: why would I give a hormonal know it all, but don’t know nothing teen that kind of power? My mama cell phone phobia was recently heightened after reading a study by researchers from the University of Southern California. The study anonymously sampled more than 1,300 middle school students, ages 10-15, in Los Angeles as part of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Alarmingly the study found that, Youth who texted more than 100 times a day were more than twice as likely to have received a sext and almost 4.5 times more likely to report having sent a sext. Among middle school students, those who reported receiving a sext were 6 times more likely to also report being sexually active. Young teens who sent sexts were almost 4 times more likely to report being sexually active. Sending and receiving sexts went hand-in-hand: Those who reported receiving a sext were 23 times more likely to have also sent one. Reading studies like these I can’t help but wonder if our oldest would participate in sexting if she had a cell phone. If I am being honest with myself I would say…probably so. I can understand parents who can’t be there when their child gets out of school and they need a cell phone to keep up with them. But our oldest does not have that problem. My husband is lobbying for a phone on her behalf. He has a valid argument that we could give it to her when she does begin to go out. And take it back when she’s at home. I can get with that, teen-cell phone baby steps for me. In the meantime I still say, if her friends want to talk to her – call the house.