How are cell phones changing teenager's independence?

first-- a brief summary of my question:
Af all the inventions of the past decade, cell phones have made the biggest social impact. Everybody is now available for immediate contact. How has this changed society in general, and more specifically–How has this affected teenagers?

Now–more details:
When I and my siblings were teenagers, (before cell phones ,1975-80), one of the great milestones was getting your drivers license, because that gave you independence.
Not just the freedom to go to a party without asking somebody to drive you there, but-- most importantly–the freedom to go there * and not be under any parental supervision*

We werent bad kids–but we all would have died of embarrassment if Mom had called us on the phone while we were listening to Grand Funk Railroad’s latest record down in the basement of a friend’s house. Most of the time the parents never knew exactly where we were -we’d meet 3 or 4 friends and go “out”

My favorite memory of new-found 16 year old freedom was driving home all by myself at midnite or later, and knowing that , even if Mom was sitting up in the living room waiting for me, she couldnt ever know excactly where I had been all evening.

But today, every teenager lives attached to their cell phone. And that’s great for hearing all the latest gossip from your friends.But how do you keep those nosy ol’ parents from checking up on you?

(mods-I put this in GQ, even though it isnt a simple factual question.But I’m interested in hearing statistics (even if just through anecdotes)–how many teens carry cells, and how do they use them? )

I don’t have any factual information for you, but i can offer opinions.

As you say geting a DL is often the time of newfound freedom for a teenager, if your question is how do cell phones (and their growing availibilty to teens) AFFECT this freedom i would say not much…they merely offer more convenience, to teen AND parent. Having just exited the teen years i know that the most common practice from a parent’s perspective is “you’re going out? great, keep your cell on you and i’ll check up on you tonight”. This gives parents tha ability to keep tabs on where the kid is as well as call when it’s time to come home, in fact several parents by phones for their kids for this very reason.

That said i would like to say that i am noticing a disturbing trend of giving phones to kids ENTIRELY too early. Seeing girls at the mall unsupervised who can’t be more than 9 or 10 years old chatting on a flourecent pink cell phone is not an uncommon sight…at least where i’m from. I pretty much believe that cell privelages should come when said child is legally able to drive…that makes since to me anyway.

I have three living at home, a 20, a 17, and a 14, and none of them have cell phones.

However, it is clearly understood in our family that if they wanted cell phones, they would be perfectly free to obtain them–if they paid for it themselves.

So far, all three of them have found more interesting ways to spend their money.

And yes, they all have jobs (the 20 is a Pharmacy Tech, the 17 works at Steak N Shake, and the 14 does babysitting and gets a handsome allowance), so they could afford it if they wanted to.

But they don’t.

So this…

…is not, strictly speaking, true. :smiley:

Of course it has an effect on teenagers independence. Less from the parents: “I can check up on you” viewpoint, more from the teenagers: “I’m not too sure about this situation, and I can call an adult to come and get me” side of things. My daughter has sent me text messages telling me to say no to whatever she asks, and then called me asking if she can do things, and used the “My mother is yelling NO! down the phone” excuse (not that any of these situations were potentially dangerous…er… at least, I hope not). If she’s out with friends, and the car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, someone can call someone to come and get them. Hell, I’ve used my cellphone when walking home late at night with some guy kerbcrawling me: using a cellphone while looking at the license plate is a good way to get creeps to drive off with a screech of tires.

No one can be entirely safe, and no teenager should be equipped with a cell phone rather than safety guidelines, but it’s a lot better than being stranded with no means of contact.

And to address one of the OP’s points: if I call her and ask where she is, and she says she’s at a friend’s house and of course their parents are home, that’s not any more true than it would be if I couldn’t contact her at all…

This question is better suited to IMHO. I’ll move it for you.

General Questions Moderator

My daughter, almost 15, has a cell phone. I consider her trustworthy and reliable. She has an active social life, with many different friends. When she goes out, she takes her cell phone with her, and usually keeps it turned on.

I know that if she is going to be late getting home, she will call me. I know that if she runs into any difficulty getting home, she’ll call me. I worry less than I would if she didn’t have a cell phone.

One qualification - we live in a small town, and, as such, my daughter has the run of the place. When she goes out, I understand she may start out at one friend’s house, then she and her friends may make their way to another friend’s house, then they may wander to the park. I don’t need to know exactly where she is. I don’t call to verify where she is, ever.

From my perspective, a cellphone gives her greater freedom.

Teenager checking in.

I own a cell phone, paid for by my parents (they added one to their existing plan, so it’s not that expensive. It helps that I talk for maybe 10 minutes total per month :)).
I don’t go out with friends very often, so mostly I use the phone to tell my ride if I need to stay late at school, or work out other schedualing details. If I’m really late at school I call my parents so they have an idea of when I’m coming home. This doesn’t happen very often, which is why I only use it for 10 minutes or so a month.

I turn the phone off except when I need to make a call :stuck_out_tongue: Not that my parents would need to check up on me, since I usually call them first.

I would give teenagers a phone, I think. Big bills are avoided either by using pre-paid service that cuts out once the limit is reached, or just by pointing out that I will be getting the bill, and overage charges will be paid by their allowances and chunks of flesh. I also will be seeing whom they’ve been calling.

I feel like having a cell phone would give a teenager more independence, rather than less, as you seem to think would be the case in the OP. If the teenager has a cell phone, the parents would most likely be more willing to let them go out and do whatever it is they want to do. The parents can still easily get in touch with them and tell them that they need to come home (or whatever). Without a cell phone the parents might be more disinclined to let their teenager out without saying where they are going.

Your parents checking up on you and asking where you are in no way forces you to tell them the truth. Not that I’d want to encourage lying, but if you don’t want your parents to know where you are - don’t tell them.

I suppose I could be completely wrong about the logic of parents, but I feel like this is how it worked in my family. I have had a cell phone since I was 15 (we haven’t had a landline since then), and my parents have been very easy going about letting me come and go as I please. (Now I’m 21 and at college, so they have no say at all about when/where I am going).


But today, every teenager lives attached to their cell phone. And that’s great for hearing all the latest gossip from your friends.But how do you keep those nosy ol’ parents from checking up on you?

My kids have a very easy way to keep me from calling them- all they have to do is speak to me once or twice during the day and be home on time. And I , for one am willing to give my kids more freedom with the cell phone than without it. It doesn’t let me know for sure where they are (they could lie as easily with a cell phone as with out it), but I was more comfortable allowing my son to travel out of the neighborhood with a phone than I would have been without it. If he got lost going to the mall, for example, I knew he’d be able to call without having to worry about him finding a working pay phone.

Hmm, when I was a young’n (70’s generation) my parents would drop me off at locations unsupervised. I think I’ll let my kid do the same especialy now that they have cell phones. Hopefully by the time he gets that old they will have streaming video phones so I can actually SEE where he is at.

My 18 and 20 year old daughters have had cell phones for about three years now (which they pay for!), and from a parental perspective, it has allowed them more freedom, not less. It also actually allows us to keep more in touch than before, since they’ll call me when they have time to kill (such as waiting for a friend, etc.). It’s really nice now that they’re off to college. Their numbers are still local, so I can easily call them without incurring long distance charges. (Even though I have free long distance with my cell phone, we still have a land line at home, which doesn’t have a long distance carrier.)

Having a phone was great for gaining independance when I was younger. When I went to parties I never knew what time I would be back home, but having a phone made is possible to text my mum and say “I won’t be back until 2morrow afternoon…” or "I’ll be in around 6am."So she didn’t have to worry, and I got plenty of freedom.

I think I will be getting Charlie a cell phone around the time he’s 9 or 10. That’s because that is the age I think I will feel comfortable dropping him off at sports practices or letting him walk home from school to a friend’s house. That way he can call me if practice is cancelled or after school plans change.

I can remember several times having to wait (sometimes by myself), because practice was cancelled and I didn’t have any money to call my mom. I can remember being afraid that if I accepted a ride home from one of my friend’s moms, my mom would then show up and freak out because I wasn’t there.

I don’t want this to happen to Charlie. He will get a cell phone, but it will come with restrictions and severe consequences for misuse.

I don’t like cell phones one bit…

but I really, really like the idea of them calling home and saying “So-and-so has been drinking a lot, I don’t feel safe getting in the car with them, can you come pick me up?”

You know how many teens die per year in drunken car crashes.