After the attacks on the World Trade Center, many parents bought cellphones for their children as an additional safety precaution, out of fear of preventing teens from communicating with the family during a worst case scenario. “Even without the added concerns of school shootings and terrorism warnings, who doesnt feel good about easily being able to reach their child” (Mulrean 2010). Many phones also have a GPS capability that enables parents to track their teens movements. While some might protest this is over-bearing, some parents feel that if they pay for the phone, this gives them the right to use it to its fullest capability. Parents say the GPS tracking system also enables them to give more freedom to their teens with peace of mind as they know the teens whereabouts. Of course, this might be seen as excessively paranoid in some parents eyes, or intruding upon the childs privacy. But even reviewing the childs cellphone bill and noting an excessive amount of calls late at night can be an important illustration of what the child is doing. If that is the case, the parent needs to talk to his or her teen about doing too much socializing and not enough studying.
Of course, the most obvious objection to the purchase of a cellphone for a teen is the issue of texting and driving or simply talking on the phone while driving. If the teen abuses this privilege, this can be easily remedied by getting the teen a phone without the option of text messaging. And if the parent catches the teen talking and driving, the most obvious fitting punishment is to take away driving privileges rather than phone privileges.
As cellphones become more and more ubiquitous in our society, teaching teens to use them responsibly is essential. Just as teens learn to drive, first through lessons, then through a learners permit and finally gaining full adult privileges to operate a vehicle, teaching a teen to use a cellphone responsibility is not an all-or-nothing proposition.
Getting a younger teen a very basic plan without text messages, teaching the teen to earn phone privileges with responsible use of a phone, and then gradually allowing the teen to make a financial contribution in exchange for a more comprehensive phone service is the best way to teach a teen that a cellphone is not a toy. And even for the most reluctant parent, the knowledge that a teen has a cellphone can buy the parent valuable peace of mind. The teen only needs to call the parent — or the police — if the teen in danger.
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