Mobile Phone Addiction
Is it just me or has the world gone mad? Both my daughters seem to be suffering from that terrible disease "Mobile Phone Addiction." I say addiction, because it is like a drug to which they have become dependent. My older daughter is sixteen years old and recently got herself a part time weekend job to help fund her addiction. Fortunately, at the moment my ten year old daughter is happy to receive her many cast-off mobile phones.
Nicola, the oldest sibling cannot be without her phone, it goes everywhere with her and does everything. She uses it to text, check her messages, facebook, twitter, takes photos with it, works out her finances with the calculator, uses the diary function to organise her social life, check the latest online fashions, books cinema tickets, listens to music, plays the odd game, checks weather forecast, and of course makes the odd call! Honestly when she texts, her fingers move at breackneck speed that I'm surprised she hasn't fractured them before now!
Last week I took her shopping to buy a dress for her end of school year prom. After many hours, many shops and very painful feet, she managed to narrow it down to a possible two dresses. She asked for my opinion, which I gave, it went down like a cup of cold sick! The next thing I know she takes a photo of herself wearing each outfit and sends them to her friend for her obviously much more valued opinion. Her text went off a few moments later, with the reply she had wanted - the short black dress with no back. It wasn't a dress, it was half a dress! Every few minutes her text alerts were going off, she answered them while we continued shopping. She was multi-tasking - just wish she could use this skill when at home to tidy her room.
- Almost 4 out of 5 teenagers own a mobile phone.
- They have become more of a status/popularity symbol now than clothes and jewellery.
- 80% of teens state that they feel safer and more secure carrying a mobile phone when they are out.
- 57% of teenagers organise their social life using their mobile.
- Teens text 5 times more than adults.
- Around one third of teens use their cell phone for gaming.
- 20% of teens use mobile phones for social networking.
A lesson learned
At my daughter's high school, the rule is that mobile phones must be switched off and remain in their locker until the end of the school day, which I totally agree with. I remember one day she came home from school, visibly upset and crying. When I asked what was wrong, it emerged that she had kept her phone in her bag and forgotton to switch it off. Her friend (in the classroom!) had texted her with an emergency - she needed to know what the plans were for lunch! Just as the text message alert tone sounded, her teacher qute rightly confiscated the phone and told her to collect it from the office at the end of the day. This is when she started to sob and went on to explain that she had gone to the office at 4pm after her last lesson to collect it, only to find that the office had closed early and the secretary had gone home. She was devastated, and moped around all evening bugging the life out of me and the rest of the family - she remained grumpy and bad-tempered for the rest of the night.
By morning she was still no better, in fact she was livid. I didn't need to go through my usual morning ritual of trying to waken her every 5 minutes with a time check, instead she was up, showered and dressed by 8am to go to school and wait for the office to open at 8.30am. She did get her phone back and learned a valuable lesson. During its time in solitary confinement in the locked filing cabinet, there were 17 missed calls and 36 texts!
When I type a text message out, it generally takes me about ten minutes as I seem to write long essays, partly because I haven't yet learned all of the abbreviations and text speak. When I'm sent a text by my daughter, I have to carefully decode it to understand what is being said, I'm sure she could get a job with the CIA if she wanted! These are some of the text talk I have received recently: (my youngest daughter had to translate them for me!)
gtg - got to go
pmu - pick me up
lmao - laughing my ass off
ty - thank you
jtlyk - just to let you know
iw4U - I'm waiting for you
yhni - you have no idea
omwh - on my way home
Although I moan about her constant finger twitching, I do prefer her to carry her phone with her at all times. Not only can I reach her, more importantly, she can get in touch with me at anytime.
I do think that before a child is given a mobile phone, it is important that they have learned the value of money. You don't want to be hit by a huge bill at the end of the month.
Understanding the value of money is the biggest problem facing parents of children who want to be the owner of the latest phone. It is a booming business as all of the phone manufacturers compete to have the smartest, sleekest and technologically superior phone. Children and teenagers need to grasp the fact that every text, call and internet download costs money. Foolishly, I did have a HUGE bill at the end of the month when my older daughter was given a phone for her 13th birthday. I did sit her down and laid the rules of use, from her allowances and the costings of the tariff she was on. When the bill arrived, I was expecting it to be around £25 but instead was a whopping £73. I nearly had a fit, and that's when I decided to put her on Pay as You Go. I would put £25 of credit on her phone at the start of the month and when it was used up it was gone until the beginning of the next month. She then began using her phone more sensibly and understood the concept of not making her parents bankrupt!
Last year I decided that since she was managing to cope quite well with the Pay as You Go, I put her on a contract with a maximum spend of £25. Since she now has her weekend job, she has really learned the value of money. I still pay for her phone each month, and the money she earns she spends on extras like music downloads and all the latest apps.