“Everyone has a phone except me! Can I have a phone, please! Please! I promise I will be responsible with it!” For parents who have been awaiting this inevitable question in tones of begging, guilt-producing, and with a nice touch of sincerity—in our own minds, we have probably already debated the pros and cons of allowing our child to have a cell phone. Safety, and the ability for our child to reach us, anytime and anywhere, gives parents the slight edge in surrendering; yet, it’s difficult to truly know when the right time is. The pre-teen years are challenging, as boys and girls are struggling with their own identity and emotions, and the awkwardness of budding sexuality. We hear the term “cyberbullying” and about children who conceal interactions through social media. It is easy to wonder how a cell phone truly impacts the lives of today’s teens.
One Post to Humiliate
Remember the days when two classmates met in the middle of the hallway or after school to dispute something heard through the grapevine? In less than ten minutes, the situation had vanished, and most likely, the two classmates were again on good terms with one another. In the digital age, one post could welcome anyone who wished to comment and immediately heighten the discussion to the point of humiliation. A fight may occur the following day, or a more serious consequence, a suicide attempt; both of which have been documented in recent news.
One Post to Dating Expectations
Images of scantily clad women can easily be found through an online search. One degree less than pornography, some teens believe a condition for an evening out is to receive a naked photo. Young women surrender themselves for the hope of trust and being liked. What happens to this one photo? Too often, the picture is just a game, and tossed around among friends, or, posted for anyone to see.
The 48-Hour Challenge
In November of 2017, parents were warned about a new social media game teens termed “The 48-hour challenge.” The game encouraged teens to disappear for 48 hours without notifying their family or friends. Police departments and parents instantly responded to this game, angry to think precious public resources would be wasted in exchange for points. An additional teen game is called “Blue Whale Challenge.” (The 50th task is a live broadcast of the participant’s death.) Life is not a game, nor can the reset button be pressed!
1000 Simultaneous Relationships:
We can see one problem. Family time is consumed with not interaction, but technology. Without rules, parents, are finding their children are obsessed with the instant gratification of feedback. Many teens may claim they have a strong social life simply because their friends on social media total 1000 plus. Popularity isn’t about visibility, but the opportunity to be independent without parents, appearing cool, flirting, and impressing the opposite sex.
Break Through Concealment!
Parents can go beyond checking texts and social media accounts, and determine whether their teen may be concealing additional accounts. One method is to log out of their Instagram or Facebook account and see if multiple accounts appear.
Parents can also go to “settings” and check the number of e-mail accounts listed on the phone. If two e-mail accounts are listed, then, multiple accounts can easily be concealed. Chrome or another web provider may be used to gain access.
The Family Cell Phone
Yes, the decision to give your child a Smartphone is daunting. With most households eliminating a landline, the need for an extra mobile phone becomes necessary, especially as children are spending more time away from the home with classmates, or attending extracurricular activities by the time of middle school. A family phone with the restricted ability to call and text may be the first step in phone ownership.
We realize the bells and whistles on a phone are not a necessity for teens; yet, 58% of all 12-year-olds own a Smartphone, and 75% of all teenagers. As parents, we must be realistic and know our children are engaging in chat sessions, whether private or public, sending inappropriate pictures, and quite possibly concealing social media sites. By being born in the technology age, they are held accountable for knowing the rules, and to “chat” and “post” responsibly. We, also, must surrender to the “gossip” of how teens are utilizing technology. It is here to stay!