Sunday, February 15, 2009

Teens and phones.

I think I have two posts here, so I may divide it up.

I've been watching the kids with the phones today, and me as well, and it has been interesting.

First of all, while both of them are incredibly rapid at picking up the techniques for navigating around inside the machines, youngest is in no way handicapped by her youth....maybe it is like languages and you pick them up easily when you're young.

We got the phones, as I mentioned, with great reluctance, but the reality of teenage life today, at least here, is that it has fundamentally altered the way the kids interact. Just as any technology does of course. Messenger means that they want to chat all the time, but the cell phones have altered things from when I was running around with my friends.

You see, at that time, no one had cell phones (my kids groan at that, what a dinosaur) and so we needed to plan in advance. Easy peasy, and our parents would ask where we were going, and that is what we would be doing. We would know in advance, and if we changed plans we would phone for permission/to check in.

From observing my own teen, and talking to the kids I teach, - who I regularly pump for info - teens now normally have no idea what they are going to be doing. They are on messenger, decide they want to get together, and chose a place to meet. Maybe, or they go out the door and then text each other to see where they are.

The kids then head off to one place, another friend texts to say that something is going on, and off they go in a third direction.

As a parent who grew up in an unconnected era, the child can easily get into trouble with you because you discover they have gone to ________ place and didn't tell you.

But they didn't know that was where they were going till a moment before they went.

Hence the phones. Now the reality is that the phoneless are literally out of the loop and cannot locate their friends or get in on the activities because no one knows where or when they will be happening. Also their parents have no way of knowing where their kids are, nor can they give permission/advice without a phone as well.

It is fascinating how much more spontaneous their interactions have become compared to how I was a teen.

Here's a question, in TO I still largely function on the old system, despite the fact that I am hooked to a mobile 24/7. I plan in advance and then do what I plan. How hooked up are you? How has it affected how you interact with your friends. Do you see similar changes in your teens behaviours?

Do you?

12 comments:

elpadawan said...

you may want to have a look at this:

http://www.google.com/latitude/intro.html

Personnally, I plan. And then, use the cell to check up on other people's status because with Paris public transit, you never know if people are just late, or completely late...

And, of course, I use the cell phone in order to be always available when my company needs me for an emergency... *groan*

Helen said...

I find them very useful when dealing with kids, and very very useful when they were teens because you could usually track them down (though we have dead reception areas round which makes things a bit more complicated. But when they go out at night, and start driving I find them a great help to peace of mind.

kate said...

I have one but I only use it to call home or Santi at work (or on his mobile, in the unlikely event that we were both simultaneously away from home and away from each other.) And I carry it with me when I leave the house in case the kids' school has to get in touch with me for some reason, but that's all.

I remember reading a few years ago an article musing on just exactly what you wrote-- how kids today don't plan ahead. My kids are too young to have mobiles, but I can't say that I like the idea of them being older and going out with me not knowing where they will be and who they will be with...

And I am enjoying the slide show of your Spain photographs as I type this. You certainly do have a great eye. Oh, and thanks for commenting on my post about groupings-- I have been thinking about what you said even though I haven't gotten it together to answer yet. I'm headed there next.

Yeesh, sorry for the book!

Beth said...

I'm SO hooked it make sme sick. My phone goes everywhere with me...to the tub, to bed, everywhere. and now that youngest has his own phone....well, I can get hold of him anytime I want to, and I like that.

and they DO change plans all the time, if they evenbother to make plans in the first stinkin place!

Anonymous said...

I'm like Beth. My phone goes with me everywhere! EVERYWHERE and my plans change often due to texting my friends to see where they are, what they are doing and if they want to meet up somewhere, and we are all in our late 30s and early 40s!

ADDICTED! Yes. We. Are!

Beth said...

How weird. I just bought a cell phone today. (Had one years ago and rarely used it.) I've been asking the boys to help me with all the functions - man, their fingers fly on that thing!
I still plan to function the old fashioned way in terms of interaction and planning, but who knows what might happen now that I have my new toy?

mmichele said...

I am very un-connected. Rob has a cell phone he only has used for work. it is a little bit odd because often when i plan to meet people, they say, "I will call you when I am close to find out where you are" and then we realize that they will not be able to call me and we have to do it the old way... find an assigned meeting place that we both know.

part of me is really reluctant to get a cell phone. i suspect when my kids start driving, i will change my tune.

Jason, as himself said...

Oh yes. I'm sure we all see the same things with our teens and their phones. The trick is to find that "happy place" where you're not getting charged $371.00 for text messages one month. True story.

Overall, though, I feel very comforted knowing I can get ahold of my girls at any time, and they can do the same with me.

I still plan ahead. The cell phone follows me, I don't follow the cell phone.

The computer on the other hand? It has taken over my life.

sirdar said...

We have two. I have one mostly for emergency purposes and also to help Dawn if something should happen. We don't have a text plan nor do we plan to have one.

The kids don't have cell phones so I can't relate our experiences with them. Our niece was given a Blackberry recently but she is on it constantly.

Carla said...

I probably age myself, but I didn't let my now 20-something kids have a cell phone unless they paid for it themselves.

Now, though, I have an iphone (my second one, btw), DH has a crackberry, but I combat always being on it by 1) rarely giving out my phone number, and 2) rarely answering it. Instead, I am APPS fan, and play games and such.

Nowadays, kids learn early! Last night my 1 year old grandbaby, who can't talk yet, but he sure can put his hand up to his ear when he hears the phone ring. Pretty funny!

Trish said...

Yes those cell phones have made things so spontaneous and I think I kind of like that. And I absolutely like that my kids each have a phone so that I can reach them and they can reach me.

I'm still not as fast on the keyboard as they are though - I'm too old! LOL

oreneta said...

elP, that is a seriously cool app! My phone is WAY too low tech to manage it, but maybe some day...I have to say that having the phone so that work can get a hold of you has got to be the pits. It's one thing for the kids, for work? *groan* indeed.

Helen, they are very useful tools for teens, there is no question about it, hence our new entry into the Spanish market!

Kate, don't apologise for the book, your thoughts are always welcome. I'm OK with the kids not knowing where they are going, as long as she texts me to tell me where she is.....do you see the difference? I am sure there will be some confusion till we get it all ironed out, but it is OK I think. I haven't given the number to the school, we both work nearby and so they could call my husband if they can't get me.

Beth, that's me in TO...I wear it on my belt and it goes everywhere. I'm just getting used to the kids having one now...fun times.

Anon! I am afraid to get one with internet, then I really would never get off...that's my addiction if I have one...

Beth..that is weird, who'd you go with? I have a fido in TO and like them a lot, also you can use an autofill for the texting which I find makes it much faster for old farts like me who actually want to text words not code....

Mmichele, I am actually rather like you and I want to tightly control my connectivity, so while it is always with me, it is often off, or I won't give out the number. If I am with the man and the girls, it is OFF....makes my parents crazy which I find hilarious....the man and I can predict what the other will likely do enough that we don't usually have a problem meeting up...

Jason, I am with you, it is the computer that is eating my life...totally. And the phone bills? Eldest doesn't have a contract, she has a pay as you go. I put in 10 Euros a month and thats IT. The system here lets her still text me, and I can call her even if she has no money...so it is OK and completely controls how much she can spend. I however have a contract! Yipee!

Sirdar, a good old crackberry.....I like texting, why don't you? Hmm, interesting the different uses. Indeed I kind of prefer texting to talking, it doesn't interrupt the same way....

Carla! You like the apps! The only one I would like to get is tetris, which I suppose dates me too!

Trish, I don't have a problem with the spontanious nature of their arrangements either, as long as they keep me in the loop. At least now she can.
I am still faster on the keyboard though...heh heh heheheheh!