Cell Phones... The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread or the Worst Invention in the World?

Written By: Rachel Strong
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Cell phones are wonderful, the best things humans have ever invented! They help us keep in touch with work, our family, and friends. Hand-held phones have so many uses now-cameras, video cameras, mp3 players, pretty soon, they'll even be coming with a kitchen sink! Wait a minute... Thanks to cell phones, we're never unavailable, even when we want to be. Anyone can get in touch with us. And the phones now a days are so complicated you need a Ph.D. in technology to figure them out! And where are they going to put that sink, anyway?

In the hands of students, just like adults, cell phones are a mixed bag. If your student is involved in after-school activities such as clubs or sports, a student's phone can free you up to run errands before picking up your child. If your student has his or her drivers license, or is at a party, or is just out and you don't know where they are, you can just give them a call. However, as many parents have found out when receiving the monthly bill-unless you opted for a plan with unlimited EVERYTHING-a cell phone in the hands of a student can be quite costly. (It's not their money, why should they hold back?, they think.)

However, as the cell phone technology becomes more and more advanced, the teens who use their phones at inappropriate times (such as during class time) have more and more ways to get one over on their teachers.

It used to be that to cheat on a test, you had to either wait for the teacher to leave and then ask your neighbor, to chance passing a note, or to take the time the night or morning before to write the answers on an inconspicuous part of your body. Now, with the advent of text messaging, students can text each other the answers. This is made easier with the new "Mosquito" ring tone-an annoying, extremely high-pitched tone most adults over 30 can not hear (and those who are over 30 and can hear it wish they couldn't).

Cell phones have also made bullying easier as well. Before phones were equipped with cameras, it was kind of hard to take a picture of someone changing in the locker room after gym class. Now, with a few pushes of a button, everyone can see you as you would rather they not.

Another, less obvious, form of bullying comes in the guise of "Cell Phone Clubs." In a local middle school here in Idaho, every girl in the sixth grade class with a cell phone is invited into the "Cell Phone Club." Those who do not have a cell phone, whether right or not, whether conscious or not, are excluded from the club and cannot be included in the calls and texts until their parents buy them a phone.

The fight over the bill is something every parent of a cell-phone-wielding teen girl has had at least once-usually once a month. Part of our job as parents is to teach our children responsibility. When children are handed anything they want early in life, they begin to assume that life will be like that the rest of their lives. Set limits and if your child goes over those limits, implement the consequences. There is no reason that, in a family of four, one phone makes up half of the bill. If you need to have the phone disconnected for a while, do it. (Cell phone companies are usually pretty good about helping in these situations.) Make your child pay for the bill with an after school job or extra chores around the house.

But, as stated before, cell phones are not completely evil. They are a wonderful invention and being able to quickly get in touch with your child in case of emergency is a very, very important thing that is made very easy with a cell phone.

Because of the concerns parents have over cell phones, many companies are coming out with phones with fewer perks for their younger clients. Some of these phones have a built-in Global Positioning System (GPS) so that if the unthinkable happens, the authorities can find your child quickly, as long as the phone is charged.

These "simple" cell phones (available through almost all cell phone providers) can be programmed for just a few numbers (in addition to an emergency number), and cannot download ring tones, send text messages, or send pictures or videos. The phone is simply a phone-something with which to talk to other people-which is an endangered species nowadays.

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