March 26th, 2008


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01:36 am - on teens and technology...
So I went to Easter dinner with Steph and her family, and while there, here cousin (who I think is like 14) was admiring my new iPhone. In typical teen fashion, she immediately started begging her parents for one. Her mother told her to stop and she's lucky they finally agreed to let her have a cellphone at her age.

This sparked a conversation as to whether or not it was appropriate for teens to have cell phones. Steph's other cousin (a school teacher) then went off on a tangent about how kids shouldn't have phones because they are the bane of schools. She said she confiscates more phones from kids than anything else because they aren't supposed to have them on during school hours.

I actually found this kinda disturbing. I'm actually pretty against the concept of schools being able to confiscate anything. Simply put. Shit doesn't belong to them, they shouldn't take shit. But also, I thought after Columbine and 9/11 all the rules had changed anyway. I'm totally okay with saying that kids aren't allowed to make phone calls during class, but dammit, its fucking 2008. If I have a 14 year old kid, I want to be able to get in touch with him/or on 2 seconds notice anytime I want. Period. You want to make a rule that they can't be on the phone during class. Fine. You want to give them detention if they break it. Fine. But if you take property from my kids that I bought for them, you can expect the police to come a-calling.

Anyway, this went on and eventually the cousin revealed that she takes away more cell phones during lunch than any other time. During lunch? What the fuck!?! Who cares if a kid is on the phone during lunch. Well apparently, its against the rules to have phones turned on during school hours at all. And since lunch is during school hours that counts. I pointed out that that was a dumb rule. She said, but its the rule so it has to be followed I always hate that logic. I got over blindly following rules that didn't make sense when I was like 2 years old. I sure as hell wasn't doing it when I was 14.

Anyway, her rationale was that kids are on the phone and myspace and such way too often anyway, and she'd much rather they use their lunch break to learn face to face social communication because that is more likely to help them in the real world.

BULLSHIT!

I've lived in the real world for quite a while now. In fact, there is nothing more I would like in the world than to crawl back into the nice comfy world of academia and never have to leave again. That said, I can tell you without a doubt that in the real world, in 2008, face-to-face communication isn't worth shit. What you need to survive in the real world is a healthy understanding of cellphones and email. That's how the world turns. And I don't think that's going away anytime soon.

So anyway, that's the question. For everyone, but especially those of you with kids. Do teens need cell phones? And if they have cellphones what should be the policy of schools regarding them? Do you think its bad that kids are communicating virtually so often now? Do you think that at 14 or 15 a kid still needs to be "learning to socialize face-to-face?" Or do you feel like I do, that they are trying to apply old rules to a society that no longer works the way they think it does. In my view, it didn't even work that way then. But whatever.

Anyway, how do you feel?


EDIT: sui66iy posted a link tothis article which is a good take on the situation.

(29 comments | Leave a comment)

 
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Comments:


[User Picture]From: sexcow Date: March 26th, 2008 - 06:23 am (Link)
For communicating with parents, yes it is important for a kid to have a cell phone. To hit up myspace and post have naked pics at 14-15... no. I always hated people taking my shit... not that I EVER had that happen. I know most schools give shit back at the end of the year but that still does not make it right.

Face to face social communication? This is 2008. Communication, meetings, conferences, with one on one and business is done via the interweb. I would sit in on conferences and such online with hundreds of people. Usually I was in my PJs or sometimes half naked. I would say few things... type them mostly.

So yeah... give a kid a cell phone. Don't let them be a stupid twit with it. Don't give a kid a $500 cell phone. Give them one that makes and receives calls. Email, myspace, and porn can wait till they get home.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: March 27th, 2008 - 04:58 pm (Link)
see the end of the year doesn't work for me. The end of the day doesn't even work for me. If I give my kid a cell phone (or anything else) its because I want my kid to have it. Is this kid misusing it? FIne then punish him or tell me and I'll handle it. But I didn't buy the kid a phone so I could call the teacher's desk.

As for what kind of phone to buy? I dunno. I think that's an exercise left to the parent. Do you need 24-7 access to email and myspace? No, not today. But trust me, that's coming..
[User Picture]From: marsinthestars Date: March 26th, 2008 - 12:08 pm (Link)
Sure, cell phones are useful... if you're lost, or meeting someone, or whatever. But they're not any more necessary than any other toy or gadget.

I'm whole heartedly on the side of learning face-to-face interactions. They're harder to kick off, but ultimately a lot more fun. I used to have an orchestra director who would ask parents if they made their kids practice. Too many parents said "well, not if (s)he doesn't like to." His response was always, "do you make them brush their teeth? They may not like it right away, but I bet they like the results."

I'm not comparing hanging out at lunch to brushing teeth, but more to playing an instrument - it's tough at first, but it becomes a huge part of your life, and a good part. But it's still a learned behavior. As is social interaction and basic politeness and dealing with human beings in a situation around you. I sure wouldn't want my kids to turn into people addicted to the wires around them, obnoxiously screaming into their phones as they sat on a bus full of people they might just as easily befriend.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: March 27th, 2008 - 05:09 pm (Link)
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that face-to-face interaction isn't important. I'm saying that electronic interaction is too. Sure you can survive without a cell phone. Really, you can survive with nothing but water, bread, clothing and a cardboard box for when it rains. But that doesn't make you a productive part of society. Like I find it crazy when I hear parents talking about not allowing their teenaged children to have their own internet accounts. And I do know people like that. You can't realistically go to college in this country today without know how to use email and the web. Period. You can't hold most office jobs. And today, there are a growing number of jobs you can't hold without a cell phone. Mine is one of them in fact.

There will always be people who rebel or for whatever reason are without a particular technology. I know lots of people who don't drive for instance. That said, knowing how to drive is an integral and important part of out society today and by preventing your kid from learning you are definitely adversely effecting their possible choices in the world. Same with cell phones and computers.
[User Picture]From: suicideking Date: March 26th, 2008 - 01:05 pm (Link)
Do teens need cell phones?

No, they don't "need" them any more than you or I need them. But if they want them and are responsible enough to have them, then I am fine with them(teens) having them (phones).


And if they have cellphones what should be the policy of schools regarding them?

It is a school's directive to maintain an environment of instruction. As long as they don't break the law, they have the right to do whatever is necessary to maintain that for the greater good. I am fine with banning a cell phone from the premises or enforcing a rule that states that you are not allowed to use it during school hours.

And yes, that means being heavy-handed and iron-fisted. Allowing a little wiggle room with it during lunch or between classes (when the rule is pretty clear and unwaivering as written) opens up the door for abusing the rule elsewhere. Thus, as unfair as it is, you have to set the rules and abide by them. If the school decides no phones whatsoever, part of the responsiblities with said phone is to use it under the rules governing the environment that they are in, same as in the workforce or a move theater.


Do you think its bad that kids are communicating virtually so often now?

No. Anything else is techophobic and xenophobic.

Do you think that at 14 or 15 a kid still needs to be "learning to socialize face-to-face?" Or do you feel like I do, that they are trying to apply old rules to a society that no longer works the way they think it does. In my view, it didn't even work that way then. But whatever.

Yes, they absolutely need to learn to socialize face to face. It is an integral part of our society and necessary to achieve anything in this world.

But that is not all that they need to learn. As new forms of communications open, they need to learn to embrace those as well. It doesn't have to happen as school or in a class, but learing the nuances of texting, IMing, emailing, etc., are just as important as phone etiquette, grammar and typing was to learn in earlier generations.

Anyway, how do you feel?

Kinda sleepy and a little queasy.

[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: March 27th, 2008 - 05:16 pm (Link)
See, it all depends on your usage of the term "need." I do need a cell phone. I literally can't work without one. It's part of my job. Some would argue that since that's the case, they should provide me with one, but that's not how it works.

And sure, schools will have their rules. That doesn't mean they shouldn't be reviewed however. I'm not saying that the school has to blindly follow everything I say. I'm saying that they should look into the rationales for such rules and evaluate them logically and in modern terms rather than just saying "but that's the rule." I'll grant "no calls during class." Fine. But lunch is different. Nothing is gained by no calls during lunch. Possibly you have an issue with kids being late for class. Fine, punish the late kids. But if I'm late for class because I was busy doing my homework at lunch, that's no more excusable than because I was talking to my girlfriend (on the phone or in person).

When I was in high school, we used to play cards at lunch. And we'd get in trouble for it because "no cards in school." To which my basic response was "fuck you." I am required to sit in a room doing nothing but eating for 30 min. Why can't I enjoy myself while I do so?
[User Picture]From: akiramich Date: March 26th, 2008 - 01:13 pm (Link)

Let the Libertarian flag fly!

As a Libertarian I can agrue that you will always have a major problem by having a central government dictate the expectations of education. And it follows through that you have a government that is more inclind to function as a "nanny state" rather than respect the individual rights of ownership. A lot of schools are now taking the personal property of students--in the form of school supplies-and making them pool them into a common group to be "fair" to everyone. Its ridiculous and it shows how we are failing in the system to educate.

When I was ten years old I was given a key to my house, with the understanding that I was being trusted to let myself in and out of the house, to stay by myself [or with some friends] and to not lose the key. It was also implied that I didn't use that key to be disruptive in class. It is the same way with cell phones. A teacher has a right to control the enviorment in the classroom [in the taking of notes, engaging in discourse etc.] and the good teachers do this in a seamless manner. And while I dont have a problem in a classroom setting, it seems like a violation to say to a student that they cannot keep a reasonable item of personal property for their use. Cell Phones are essential-especially in the way you stated, that parents need a means to contact their children in the event of an unforseen circumstance. If you had a child who was asmatic, you certainly wouldnt tell them they couldnt use their inhaler, but you could teach them not to use it in a classroom to distract the class. Same idea with a cell phone...
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: March 27th, 2008 - 05:23 pm (Link)

Re: Let the Libertarian flag fly!

Exactly... to respond to your example. When I was a kid I had asthma medication (a steroid actually). And the school had a rule that I was supposed to go to the nurses office every day to take said medication and the nurse would hold it for me. This was an all time stupid rule. As I was completely capable of taking said medication on my own and it was just a major inconvenience for all involved. This was eventually changed. But I mean think about the rule. The rationale was "kids can't have narcotics at school." However, I needed said narcotic to survive at the time, and going to a daily appointment so someone could watch me swallow a pill and drink a glass of water was ridiculous. The rule was eventually changed (or I went to another school. I forget). Now if I were pushing drugs in the hallway, fine discipline me. But I was just a kid trying to keep breathing.
[User Picture]From: akiramich Date: March 27th, 2008 - 06:57 pm (Link)

Re: Let the Libertarian flag fly!

See that is a scarier scenerio and shows about the abuse of private propert in public [government] schools. You were given a medication that was purchased on direction from a doctor to treat a life condition. However the state had to interject their own agent in the administration of the drug. And while it didnt happen to you, Id worry about the agent of the state. Like what if the state decided that their guidlines for the amount of the drug taken conflicted by what your doctor perscribed. Or what if a higher administrator decided to withold your medication as a discipline means ["We'll make sure Mav doesnt talk out of turn in class. We"ll make sure he can't breathe right"]. Even in a benign situation--say you need your medication but the nurse is busy dealing with another emergency situation [ie little Johnny hacked off his right hand in shop class] it can delay you having your medication in a timley manner which may result in bad consequenses. Remember government regualations have killed more people than actual adverse reactions to medicins.


"Free Minds and Free Markets"
[User Picture]From: wunnspeed Date: March 26th, 2008 - 01:38 pm (Link)

Response

I'm of two minds actually. I can fully see where you're coming from both from a 'freedom' standpoint and from the view of a former kid. However, I'm a teacher and even though I teach adults, they can barely be bothered to shut off their phones, let alone a kid. Personally, I think that something needs to be done to curb usage in schools, theaters, etc. where you shouldn't be talking in the first place, let alone on your cell phone.

What to do? I have no idea. I just know that it's bothersome and shouldn't be tolerated.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: March 27th, 2008 - 05:24 pm (Link)

Re: Response

and that's called training. Not two wrongs make a right. That's all I'm saying.
[User Picture]From: jameel Date: March 26th, 2008 - 01:46 pm (Link)
Hell, my nine-year-old nephew has a cell phone. However, that shit is locked down so that there are only a few numbers he can actually call, and not many people know the number.

Teenagers? Hell, I say let them have their cell phones. I also say let them pay the bill for that shit.

"Oh, you ran out of minutes? Damned shame."

I also approve of confiscating shit when kids are using it in class and they're not supposed to, but only if it's returned at the end of the day.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: March 27th, 2008 - 05:26 pm (Link)
See, I don't even want it returned at the end of the day. Maybe at the end of class. (assuming the kids switch classes).

See, with my luck, the day my kid does something stupid and gets his phone taken away for the rest of the day, is the day someone flys a plane into his building.
[User Picture]From: jameel Date: March 27th, 2008 - 05:28 pm (Link)
If your kid didn't want to die in a fiery accident, then he shouldn't have been using his cell phone in class.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: March 27th, 2008 - 05:58 pm (Link)
I suppose. I mean, if that's the stance you're going to take, fine. At least you're consistent.
[User Picture]From: qiika Date: March 26th, 2008 - 01:55 pm (Link)
For many (most) kids growing up in the US these days, I think a cell phone is a rite-of-passage that should be part of the teenage years. It's only a matter of time before landlines are obsolete, and let's face it - in The Future, 99% of people have a cell phone. Getting one in your teens is necessary so that you can be a fully functioning part of society when you hit legal adulthood.

If anything, with the advent of cell phones and the internet, the value of face-to-face communication becomes more apparent. The hand-written note has different weight than the IM. But we shouldn't force face-to-face interaction. That'll happen on its own just fine. Sure, you'll have kids phoning each other from across the cafeteria, but so what? Have a school policy that all phones are set to vibrate/silent mode if the ringing and custom phone-songs becomes a distraction. But let the kids interact, through whatever medium.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: March 27th, 2008 - 05:36 pm (Link)
exactly... The conversation at Easter dinner devolved into steph's uncle saying how awful it was that in his office there are people who send IMs to each from two cubicles away.

Umm, why is that awful exactly? Maybe there's a good reason. Maybe they're copy/pasting text that needs to be exact. Maybe they're just lazy. Why do you care if someone is too lazy to walk 15 feet?

People always assume that the good days were better. That isn't really true. The article Mike mentioned (now linked to this post) makes some really good points there.
[User Picture]From: rmitz Date: March 26th, 2008 - 02:47 pm (Link)
Phones should be off during all class times. Phones should be set to vibrate only when they are permitted to be on.

I would suggest a start time for having a cellphone about when you would permit your kid to be home alone for some significant period of time.

Face to face interaction is still important, but so is electronic. If I didn't have the internet, I would have been completely miserable in Qatar.

Dumb rules should not be followed. To teachers who disagree: do you ever speed?
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: March 27th, 2008 - 05:41 pm (Link)
See, I disagree. I think phones should be on. Leave them on vibrate if necessary. Train kids not to make calls. Fine. But if I, the parent, wants to get in touch with my kid RIGHT now because grandma died or whatever, fuck disrupting your class. You can deal with it.

And yeah, I think there is a certainly level of maturity that the kid needs and your guideline is a good one. As an example. I think Jamie is quite responsible, and though I doubt she NEEDS a cell phone at her age, I think she could be trusted with one. Ethan (Steph's nephew, who is the same age as Jamie), no way in hell!
[User Picture]From: marmal8 Date: March 26th, 2008 - 04:27 pm (Link)
I had a policy of "if I can't see it or hear it, how do I know you have it?" that my kids understood very well. If it causes a distraction, then it is a problem. Confiscating property is not stealing because a parent can come up anytime to retrieve it. In practice we often gave items back to the kid at the end of the day if they didn't make a fuss.

Cell phone reception is often pretty lousy in old school buildings anyway. Obviously they should be off during class and the teacher should be able to say hi to your mom if the phone is on and she happens to call during my class (no really, that happened!). Phones are sometimes used to text during class and that should not be allowed either.

That said, they are useful for finding your kid and coordinating things and being safe. In my day we used pay phones, but hardly any of those work anymore. In a disaster like 9/11, the cell phone network is jammed and so it's irrelevant about getting ahold of your kid. For most things that parents think are important, leaving a message on the cell phone should suffice. Leaving a message at the front office of the school is also a good idea because kids can't legally leave school without telling the office.

There is value in learning to get along with people, and face to face communication is still necessary - like being polite to your teacher, convenience store clerk, and the fuzz. It is not an either-or proposition, this learning to communicate in different media.

[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: March 27th, 2008 - 05:49 pm (Link)
I call bullshit on the confiscating property thing. If you're hanging out at my house and I hear your cell ringing in your purse and I take it and say "you can have it back whenever your mom comes to get it." that's stealing and you'd be pissed. The fact that you're an adult and not a teen has no relevance. The fact that we're not in school has no relevance. I've taken something that belongs to you in defiance of your permission. It's wrong.

As Mike's article points out, the problem is we as people don't always recognize changing cultura trends Schools are more guilty of this than anyone. When I was in jr. high, they had us memorizing SIN and COS tables because "you won't always have a calculator available when you need to do this." I said "sure I will." Big argument. History has proven me correct. Not only do I very very very infrequently care what the SIN of an angle is at all, in 2008, the likelihood that I am more than 15 feet away from a non-calculating device at any time of any given day is effectively nil. In actuality, what should have been important is learning how those things worked. Learning why. The actual lesson plan, however, was a vestige of a much earlier time.
[User Picture]From: marmal8 Date: March 27th, 2008 - 11:11 pm (Link)
And I call bullshit on your argument that age and location have no relevance. Children are not adults. If they are making a choice that is disruptive to the learning process, a consequence needs to be applied. If they are not disrupting the learning process then I really don't care if they have a cell phone or not. I've certainly never gone into or would ever go into someone's backpack, purse, pocket or other conveyance to take their property. Why would I need to? Cell phones that are away and quiet are not a disruption.

Moreover, parents have given their permission for us to take cell phones, laser pointers, PSPs and do-rags away. It's called school policy. They don't like it, they can take their kids elsewhere or elect a mayor who appoints a schools chancellor who makes a different policy. People should perhaps read the the school policies before signing the sheet that says they've read them and agree to them. Go and argue about it before signing and agreeing, and before your kid gets caught.
[User Picture]From: sui66iy Date: March 26th, 2008 - 05:14 pm (Link)
Cringely recently had an article on this very topic:

http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2008/pulpit_20080321_004574.html
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: March 27th, 2008 - 05:51 pm (Link)
good article. Thanks. I linked it from the post.
[User Picture]From: see_me_naked Date: March 27th, 2008 - 06:29 am (Link)
yeah, I'm with you, pretty much. Only difference is that I can see if it's ongoing In-Class issue, maybe a teacher would confiscate a phone and release it only To The Parents, or, if it's an ongoing problem with a particular student, collect their phone at the beginning of every class.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: March 27th, 2008 - 05:52 pm (Link)
that's a totally different thing. Yes, it puts more work on the teacher. But oh well, that's the job. Really, I think embracing the technology rather than fearing it is what's important here.
[User Picture]From: sonbanon Date: March 27th, 2008 - 02:09 pm (Link)
As the parent of a teenage girl, I think a cell phone is necessary. It's the easiest way to keep in touch when we are, frankly, all over the place on any given day. And, like it or not, it's important for her social life. I'm not all that prone to falling for the "everyone has one so I should too!" theory, but in this case, I think it's as necessary socially as is wearing the right clothes to school. (I'm not condoning clones or anything, believe me, but being 13 is HARD.)

As for during school, I think the best way to enforce the "phones off/on silent" rule is for teachers to remind students at the beginning of each class. One teacher told me she hated this idea because she felt it wasn't her responsibility. I think it is; it's her responsibility to educate the students in her class, and limiting cell disruptions is part of that. That of course assumes that kids should be allowed to bring their cells to school, which I think is absolutely necessary in 2008 given Columbine, 9/11, Virginia Tech, etc. On 9/11, I couldn't get through to her school to find out if they were issuing dismissals or not. I was stuck downtown in traffic, so my sitter went to the school to find out and brought her home. A cell phone would have made that so much easier--"Mommy, we have to leave school. Where should I meet you?" I like that she could and did text me when school was evacuated last year because of a gas leak. She was nervous because the administrators didn't explain the evacuation, and I was able to comfort her via text and suggest she simply ask why they'd been evacuated. Seems easy for an adult to figure out to do that, but kids really do think differently. (Btw, schools also need to get on the ball with this and send either mass texts or emails when these situations arise. Her high school mentioned they'll be implementing something next year, but sheesh--next year? They should have started this on 9/12, frankly.)

All that said, balance between technology and face-time is important. Both are essential. There is a lot of necessary face-time in the real world, even if the bulk of your or my everyday life happens electronically. Those times when we need to do things in person are important and shouldn't be taken lightly. Thus, practice doing things in person is important for adolescents for their future.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: March 27th, 2008 - 05:57 pm (Link)
well, I think we're in total agreement on the technology side, and I addressed all of that in comments to other people anyway.

As for the socialization side, I still agree. I'm not saying its nor important. But I'm saying it doesn't need to be forced and it's not ore important. At your reception I saw Torey texting her friends. And why shouldn't she. She was in a room full of people 20+ years older than her. However, she was also totally capable of sitting down and playing poker with me and other people when that happened, And she's totally capable of holding an adult conversation. I've never seen her around her peers, but from what you've said, she does plenty of that as well. I don't think she's an anomaly. I think these things tend to work themselves out.
[User Picture]From: beststephi Date: March 30th, 2008 - 02:55 pm (Link)
Just wanted to point out that she isn't my cousin, but my cousin's wife. Weird though that your aunt's/uncle's husband/wife is generally called your uncle/aunt.

I see taking a kid's cell phone away during lunch as kind of extreme. And the rationale "they have to learn to interact face-to-face" as simplistic. First of all, unless they're on the phone the entire lunch period and every lunch period, they have a chance for face-to-face interactions. And by taking away the phones, kids (very shy, etc.) aren't necessarily going to just start interacting. Or learn to interact WELL with kids. That might take some guidance from adults. I actually think technology could be used to identify kids who are struggling socially (maybe kids who are constantly on the phone during lunch do so to avoid social interactions). Teachers could identify these kids and get them help (e.g., through the guidance counselors, parents, themselves).

BTW, this cousin is the one that had the "women should be submissive to their husbands" pre-dinner "prayer". So she's apparently a stickler to "rules". Funny, I've found that women who profess to believe this tend to be the LEAST submissive people.
 

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