The popularity of cell phones has introduced a series of tension points for parents and their children. Some of these tensions are not unlike many dilemmas encountered as children grow into their teenage years including requests and permissions to stay out late, attend un-chaperoned parties, drink alcohol, drive a car, etc.
Kids seem to be winning the quest for cell phones. The number of cell phones in the world is increasing dramatically, and the age of children in the U.S. having their own mobiles is getting younger each year. In turn, parents are noticing a range of unanticipated problems linked to inappropriate use, or simply over-use, of mobiles by their kids. Examples include too much texting, often accompanied by morning fatigue and diminished concentration, disobeying school regulations for cell use, classroom cheating, too much distraction while being a pedestrian or driving a car, too much personal information revealed on personal internet sites, among others. And many of these bad habits can result in extraordinarily high service provider bills.
So what can we draw upon to ease these growing tensions and give some sense of control and satisfaction to both parents and their children? What should kids know about cell phones to be treated as competent members of cyber society?
I’d like to suggest the development of a home-based, family administered and supported “cell phone license.“ To obtain this license, kids would go through a training program that emphasizes a modern version of “communicative competency” that befits participation and individual responsibility as we witness advances in modern technology. The program would focus on competency for internet safety, and for sending (and receiving) speech, text, and images.
To continue reading about Dr. Chalfen’s idea for a cell phone license and learn more about how it would work, see his blog: Imaged Life.