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Teens and Cell Phones

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Teens and Smartphones

A Wireless New World

My husband is a college student. Since he’s about a decade older than the average freshman, he has an interesting combination of insider and outsider perspectives on campus life. One phenomenon he finds fascinating is walking from one class to another and watching groups of people walking and talking. But not to each other. Commonly, they’re all engaged in separate cell phone conversations.

If it seems that teens are beginning to sprout new addendums to their limbs that look strangely like mobile phones, it’s because they practically are. According to a 2007 study by research firm iGR, 50 to 70 percent of 12- to 14-year-olds have their own cell phones, and the numbers are even higher among 15- to 17-year-olds. There’s even talk of a “significant percentage” of 5- to 9-year-olds who have a phone.Jeff Goldman, “How Phat is Your Phone?”* Wireless-Weblog.com (May 7, 2007). Accessed December 9, 2007. According to Disney Mobile, cellular users ages 10 to17 use their phones almost four hours per day during the summer, and an hour or so less than that during the school year.“Teen and Tween Cell Phone Calls Rise During the Summer,”* Cellular-News.com (July 11, 2007). Accessed December 9, 2007.

And they don’t use their phones just for talking. They access the Internet. They text message. They instant message. They play music. They play games. They shoot video and take pictures. Not surprisingly, a recent survey by OTX reported that text messaging is the favorite mobile phone activity of 72 percent of teens.“Teens Use Cell Phones to Stay In Touch, Not to Look Cool,”* Cellular-News.com (November 19, 2007). Accessed December 9, 2007.

On the Safe Side

Parents who add their kids and teens to their family cell phone plans say they’re doing so primarily for safety reasons.Mike Sachoff, “Safety Drives Teen Mobile Growth,”* WebProNews.com (June 4, 2007). Accessed December 9, 2007. Teens appreciate the gesture, with 75 percent saying that a major benefit of having a cell phone is the security they feel in being able to reach their families at anytime. Cellular-News.com (November 19, 2007). See footnote 3.

Cellular Concerns

On the flip side, there are some concerns to be weighed by parents who are considering handing their teens the privilege and responsibility of owning a cell phone. One is the cost — not because teen talk is necessarily expensive, but because the non-voice applications that teens favor tend to rack up expenses above and beyond the cost of the basic mobile plan. In fact, an almost-comical news story out of Australia recently revealed that more and more Aussie teens are seeking to declare themselves bankrupt after unknowingly running up cell phone bills in the $3,000 to $4,000 range by accessing “premium content.”“Teens Cellphone Use Linked to Their Rising Debt Levels,”* NZHerald.co.nz (November 9, 2007). Accessed December 9, 2007.

Even if your teen is wise enough to avoid cell phone bills in the quadruple digits, it’s still important to talk about limits. For example, will you pay for unlimited text messaging and mobile Internet access for your teen? Or do you favor the idea of paying for a basic service plan and requiring your young person to foot the bill for extras?

Dangerous Drivers

Finally, driving while using a mobile phone is a concern that’s perpetually in the news. Recently, teens have been at the epicenter of the issue. That’s because several states have proposed or adopted laws that specifically target teens who use cell phones while driving. And it’s not just talking and driving that lawmakers are worried about. It’s texting and driving.“Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Signs Law That Prevents Teenagers from Driving With Cell Phones,”*T GDaily.com (September 14, 2007). Accessed December 9, 2007., Phoenix Gives Driver First Texting Ticket,* AZCentral.com (November 20, 2007). Accessed December 9, 2007. And lawmakers have good reason for concern.

A 2005 Ford Motor Company study showed that teen drivers are four times as distracted by cell phones as are adult drivers. When using a cell phone behind the wheel, teens failed to recognize 50 percent of the potentially dangerous occurrences on the road around them.“Teen Driving & Cell Phone Use Don’t Mix,”* WirelessInnovator.com (November 30, 2005). Accessed December 9, 2007. If that’s not a reason to have a serious conversation with your teen about cell phones and driving, I don’t know what is.

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Your Teen Needs You Most of All

No parent of teens is perfect and even the best can learn how to better connect with their son or daughter. Get practical action steps to better connect with your teenager in 8 Essential Tips for Parenting Your Teen in this FREE video series!

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.
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Understand How to Respect and Love your Son Well

Why doesn’t my son listen to me? Have you ever asked that question? The truth is, how you see your son and talk to him has a significant effect on how he thinks and acts. That’s why we want to help you. In fact, we’ve created a free five-part video series called “Recognizing Your Son’s Need for Respect” that will help you understand how showing respect, rather than shaming and badgering, will serve to motivate and guide your son.

Reconnected: The Digital Experience

Is the love there, but not the spark? Reawaken fun in your marriage and move from roommates to soulmates again with the help of this 7-part online video experience. Learn how to connect emotionally and spiritually as husband and wife using techniques such as dreaming together and establishing deep, heartfelt communication. The Digital Experience includes 7 teaching videos, an online study guide and access to additional tools and resources to help spouses reconnect.

Next Steps: Marriage Assessment

We want your marriage to be thriving and healthy. Take the free Marriage Assessment from Focus on the Family to learn how to strengthen your bond with your spouse and get the tools to help you need to grow closer together. 

Next Steps: Fruit of the Spirit Devotionals for Couples

The Fruit of the Spirit Devotional is a free series of nine short videos to get you into God’s Word and inspire you to seek the Holy Spirit’s help in loving your spouse.

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