Monday, June 14, 2010

Technology and Teens

According to the latest poll from the Pew Organization, about 75 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds in the United States own a mobile phone, up from 45 percent in 2004. This begs the question, "When do we let Teens gain access to their own personal technology?" What do you think is an appropriate age for someone to get their own cell phone? When do you think a child should have their own computer with an internet connection in their room? When should a child have their own television? Also, how many teens out there are sending or receiving sexual material over their cell phone? Some recent polls indicate 1 out of 3. Why do you think this trend, called "sexting" is becoming so popular?

Also, if your userid does not clearly indicate your full name, please sign your post at the bottom so i know who to give credit to. Last week someone named "joy" posted, but i don't know who to give credit to.

23 comments:

Dixonville said...

I have a 16 year old son, I have worked with teens through the years at church, and I am an elementary school teacher (I actually teach in the computer lab)...all that to say there is no "cut and dry" answer to the questions posted about when is the "right age" to allow a child free access to the internet, cell phone, or even to a television for that matter. My son has always had a tv in his room and when he was small we censored what he watched. Our home computer is visible from the den and very much out in the open. I am by no means saying that my son has never looked at something he shouldn't, but I can say that he has been "cursed" with a computer savvy mother who checks behind him everytime he is on the computer. He has had a cell phone since he was in 5th grade (he inherited his father's old phone when his father got one through his work) and the one he has now is a blackberry. He has an iPod touch that has computer access. Maybe to some this seems like alot of freedom for a 16 year old boy, but I do trust my son and he has earned earned trust by proving himself to my husband and I through the years. Like I said, I am sure, because I caught him once from viewing the computer history, that he has looked at a porn site. Very few boys don't. While maybe it isn't "right", it just shows they are normal "red blooded boys". I think the answer to the "right age" lies #1 with the child's maturity leven and #2 with the parent. Even though he has basically uncensored access now, I do check his facebook page (he is aware I have his password), e-mail, and I randomly check his phone. I have never found anything that has made me feel like I need to do further investigation, and if I did, then my husband and I would.

As far as the issue on "sexting", my opinion is that teens view this as a "safe option" to sex. I mean, it is what it is. However, outside of the obvious instant and temporary gratification, I can see the "danger" in it from many stand points. First, you send a nude pic of yourself to your boy/girlfriend, or even just sexually explicit texts...you run the risk of someone else seeing te texts or pictures, your boy/girlfriend showing them to someone else, or parents finding it. Also, even there there is "instant gratification" (I am assuming that would be the point of "sexting"), the actual sexual desire, while momentarily quenched, will only be stronger when/if those two individuals are actually physically together. But as far as WHY they do it, I think they just view it as a "safer" option to the physical act of sex...no risk of pregnancy, no risk of STDs, no having to "go parking", it's done in the privacy of their bedroom/bathroom/wherever. Teens simply do not understand the ramifications of what is perceived to them as a "safe" alternative.

Gabe Browning said...

Personally having 2 young children, this is something my wife and I have discussed. My son is 4 and he's about to have a fit to get a gaming system, like a Nintendo DS. He asks to play games on my iPod Touch at least once a day, which is odd because I never play them. Not even when he's watching. But this all leads me to believe that there will be a war when it comes time for him to ask for a cell phone, or some other communication device when he becomes a "tween" or teen.

I've heard the arguments on both sides of the aisle, and the only one that persuades me to allow either of my children to get one at a young age (I'm thinking 13) is for safety concerns. i.e. they're at a friend’s house and need me to come get them for some reason or another and they're too embarrassed to ask to use the home phone.

I have heard of these sexting stories before, specifically, being stationed overseas; we don't readily get American TV. We get the Armed Forces Network or AFN for short. AFN doesn't show commercials due to agreements between media providers and the fact that they are given us the programming for low cost or free in some cases. So to fill those commercial slots, they make up public service announcements and sexting is one of those announcements.

As for when children should have cell phones or internet in their room... well it depends on the child. Some children are more trustworthy than others. Some are able to discern between the right thing to do when it comes to communication. Now that's not to say that the responsibility of a parent is trumped by their child’s intelligence level. We're still called to protect our children. So answering that question with a specific number and not taking the easy road of saying "depends", I'd say my children can have a cell phone when they're old enough to show me they can use it responsibly (I'm thinking 14 or 15.) As for a computer in their room, they won't have one as long as they live in my house. And as for cell phones, if it has internet activity, it will be closely monitored as well. The big thing for me is to protect the innocence of my children as long as possible. They will have plenty of time as they transition to adulthood to surf the internet freely. It is my responsibility to educate them how to use it responsibly as well as the dangers that go with things like sexting and chatting. But at some point they'll have to go at it alone.

pmm46 McDaniel said...

They say that men think about sex every 10 seconds...I would venture to say that teens think about it every 5.
Our society is saturated with sex, and the number one target is teens. It is on the shows they watch, in the music that they listen too...it's portrayed in the clothes that they wear, and advertisments that they are bombarded with.
I do not have children yet, but I am married. My wife and I frequently talk about how we will raise our kids, and feel that this exact issue is one that should not be overlooked. We have made a few rules that will be obeyed by not only my kids, but me and my wife as well.
First, the computer will be placed in the main living area with restrictions on the time spent there.
Next, our children will not be allowed to have a television in their room unless a special event permits it.
Now the cell phone...ahhh the cell phone...that's a tricky one! It's hard to put a limit on something like that without just totally eliminating it all together, and doing that just says that you don't trust them. I think it comes down to this, if your child can prove that they can be trusted in other situations then perhaps they are ready for a cell phone. Maybe let them know that you will be doing random "check-ups" on the text conversations and tabs on who they are talking with.
I think it is important not to shelter your children, but also don't blind yourself to their mischeif. Find a balance that shows you care about the decisions that they make but don't want to controll them.

Scott Stewart said...

As the father of 2 young children, ages 4 & 2 (with one on the way), I am thankful that I don't have to wory about the cell phone dilemna for at least a couple more years. It has been interesting to me to see how my older siblings have reacted to this question with their kids. My oldest nephew, age 13, just got his first cell phone this week. I'm not sure if it is a special phone, or just has certain restrictions on it, but he can only call a couple people and has no texting or data allowance. Maybe that's a good way to break a child into his first cell.

My wife and I have talked about the cell phone issue a number of times, and I agree with what the other posters are saying that it depends on the trust and maturity of the child. I can't say that just because I didn't have a cell phone in high school, my kids don't need one. I think maybe around the age of 12, I'll get my child a phone with limited capabilities. Maybe around the age of 15 is when I'll let them call whomever they want and start texting. No data plan though. Who knows...that is still 8 years away for my oldest, so it might be something different by then. He'll probably have the iPhone v.14when he is 9.

I will not allow my child to have a computer in their own room with internet access. Whatever they want to do online can be done with eyes of the rest of the family watching. I like the idea of creating user accounts for each child so you can monitor usage time and accessibility.

I'm thinking the TV and cell phone may go together around the same age. With usage monitored as well as channel access limited. The TV is the least of my worries as a parent (as of right now).

Sexting, just like internet chat rooms, allow people to express things that they normally wouldn't express in a face to face setting. It gives teens courage to write sex text messages without perhaps realizing the full meaning and importance of what they are doing. I imagine the statistic will continue to grow as more and more kids send pornographic images and sex messages through their cell phones.

Laura Collins said...

I know I'm not a parent, and I don't plan to be one anytime soon, but I do feel strongly about this subject. Teens should get a cell phone and their own computer with internet when they're ready. I got a cell phone when I was 12 because my parents were divorced and I was traveling so much between them and with school activities, like cheerleading and volleyball. I didn't get my own computer until I was 14. I was in high school and I had a lot more homework assignments than in junior high. I was the youngest child in my family so I matured fast being around my older brother and sister and their friends. I already knew what sex was and cuss words and bad things. It didn't matter if someone texted me something bad or if I found something bad on the internet... I already knew about it and I knew how to deal with it. My parents didn't shelter me from the world growing up like most parents do these days. I was allowed to make decisions and deal with problems without them stepping in to save me everytime there was a problem. I think cell phones and internet are a problem in society today with teens because of their parents over protecting them from it. Teens are curious and they always will be. Their parents are forbiding them to do or see something and teens will just rebel. They want to do whats forbidden, and the more parents try to keep their children from something the more they will want it. No matter if you give a cell phone and internet or not, teens are always going to find a way to explore certain forbidden subjects. Like with sexting... teens are just using the mediums they have. Even if they didn't have a cell phone, they're still going to sext- either through face-to-face conversation, or good, old fashioned notes like we used to do. It's not the cell phone that's making them sext or be bad or dirty, or whatever you want to call it. It's just the way it is. Teens will always be curious little pervs and there's nothing parents can do to stop it. The only thing they can do is raise them normally- give them rules but don't over do it. Let them make mistakes and learn.

Tina Perryman said...

I believe that a child or teen should have access to their personal technology when they reach the age of being able to be responsible and a parent does not have to continue to tell them to clean their room, wash the dishes and so on. People are taking a little bit to far because there are a lot of things a teen can do besides talk on the phone or play on the computer. One of the biggest problems we have with this is kids in school texting and not paying attention and not respecting teachers so why add to the problem by giving them a tool to not adhere. I believe that an appropriate age is 15-16 years old depending on the maturity of a child. Some kids are 12 and 13 but they can come in the home, fix them a snack, clean the common areas and still have time to talk on the phone and play on the computer I think it's all about the level the child is on. 15-16 years of age is the most appropriate age for a child but do to some circumstances the age might change.
I don't think it's bad for a child to have a computer. When my daughter was 7 years old she had a pc however, she was not able to get on the internet until she was in the sixth grade and can not have certain accounts until she is of a more appropriate age. To have a pc in their private space, one would allow their child to be exposed to a lot of things that they might not "believe could happen to them." That is the realism of it. To me a child cannot have internet access until they are at least 14 years old. Something’s might have to be explained to your child first. Sometimes if you expose them to the problem but give them the truth about it you can allow you child to have anything because they will be honest because you've been honest with them.
Just like with the internet, you have to be careful and screen the things you want you child to see. They should be able to have a TV in their room, my kids have always had a TV in their room but their TV’s only go to certain channels and that is it. I will not subject my children to things to early but having a TV early is not a problem for me. As long as the work is done for the day you can watch it for about an hour.
Sexting, this is a new fad that is just out of control. I know of a lot of kids that get caught up in this. I think it is so popular because they are able to free inhibitions and not care because even though it's them, it's not really them. When someone is sexting they can allow their friends to be involved and it won't be so bad. So sexting is a community thing. Not only are they sending to each other but also their friends are seeing it and they are sending to other people as well. This is dangerous and scary. I know of a young girl who is 16 years old who's parents just found out she was sexting. They are hurt and confused. She explained that she felt comfortable because she was at home and did not feel pressure to go any further. That is the scary part, they feel no pressure by doing this but would feel pressure if they were in the room with each other. All of this is scary because there is no right answer. You have to watch your child and see how they develop mentally to see when they are ready. Again, some kids are more responsible and can take on the responsibility where other's can not.

Devonte Gardner said...

I think kids should get a cell phone when they are ready. When I was younger, I didn't have one and I ended up missing out on a lot of social opportunities. The key is to somehow instill morals in your child before they reach their rebel years, so when they do act out, and they're bound to (we've all been young before), they won't do anything major. Catching an STD from unprotected sex or having a child before graduating are major. Sexting is probably considered a safe alternative to sex by most teens. Some may try it, some won't. It's a trend going on right now. Parents have to be on top of it and tell their children what it can lead to, particularly the possibility of their photos or messages being made public. Even the brightest kids mess up every now and then and need guidance.

Children need to be familiar with the computer and the Internet as soon as possible. It is a necessity that the next generation be tech savvy so they can one day be employable. I would recommend putting the computer in plain sight in the family room. If a child gets too lost in his computer, he can become anti-social and with the way the world is now, he could even get into illegal activities online.

I don't think TV is as dangerous as a computer, but the key, in my opinion, is to keep kids active and social. Being stationary all day in front of a computer or TV can only lead to them being overweight and lazy and ultimately unsuccessful in the work force.

Kate said...

Like Laura, I am not a parent and have no plans to become one in the immediate or distant future. Also like Laura, I had older siblings and a mother from Brooklyn, so I learned the ways of the world pretty early on in life.

That being said, I think the issue is less about trusting your teen and what he or she is doing online or what they are watching, but more about making sure that the computer or television (or video games) is not overtaking his/her life. I do not worry so much about the laziness as Devonte mentions, but about maintaining a certain level of socialness. Some of us are always going to be more social than others, but I see more and more kids who are lacking social skills necessary to function in society.

If I had to make the decisions right now, no TV in the room (I don't believe in having TV's in the bedroom at all), computer in a common area, and cell phones when they get their licenses.

The comments on sexting are interesting. I had honestly never thought about why kids "sext," but the idea that it is "safer" than actual sex makes sense to me. Not to take too much of a tangent on the subject, but there definitely needs to be some better education to kids and teens about sexting, and bringing in some school nurse and separating the boys and the girls is not going to cut it. That method, or the abstinence only method, obviously is not working. Kids now were born with this technology, so it is second-nature to them, and they really do not think about how this stuff can last forever and be shared with everyone and anyone instantly. I tend to think those of us not born with it, but who have learned with its developments, understand that a little better, especially because our use was more than likely first in the business world.

Neal Squires (nds79) said...

Being a teenager is all about exploring new horizons and pushing through the limits of childhood. And nothing provides more access or pushes more limits than a technological device (such as a cell phone, TV or computer). I feel that granting access to such technology is not dependent upon attaining a certain age but more on developing a sense of responsible use of such tools. I use the word tools, because that is how cell phones or computers should be viewed, as a means to communicate or accomplish a task like homework, research or even entertain. When a teen understand the purpose of such devices and how to responsibly use them, then they have reached an appropriate age. For some this may be around 12 years old while for others it is closer to 16-17 years of age. I liken these criteria to opening up a bank account. I work for a bank where we offer a checking account for teenagers. For some parents they feel their child is ready for financial services at 13 years old, while others (sometimes within the same family) feel that their child isn’t ready until they go off to college. It all depends on the individual’s maturity and understanding of such a tool.
As with any powerful tool, if it is placed in the hands of a teenager without limits, damage can occur. I am referring to teenagers “sexting” or even the viewing of pornographic material via the internet from a computer in their own room. While I would love to see my own child have unlimited freedoms, I also recognize the need for a teenager to have boundaries that will protect them from harmful actions. Like the argument for a cell phone, there is no specific age for allowing a computer or TV in the teenager’s room. When the teen is mature and understands that the use of such devices is not without consequence, then they may be ready. Regardless of age however, I strongly believe that a TV or computer with internet access should have boundaries placed on them. Internet filters should be used and TV access limited to age appropriate channels. I understand freedom is important to a teenager, but allowing a teenager to view the internet or TV without filters is only asking for potential hazards.
As far sexting is concerned, the reason why so many are experimenting with this is due to the easy and relative secrecy of such actions. It is easy to send a quick message full of innuendo or sexual comments. It is just as easy to now send a video or photo of oneself nude in order to stimulate sexual feelings. All this can be done while at home, where the parents are oblivious to what is occurring. This is why teenagers are frequently engaging in such activity. However, simulated sex inevitably leads to the real thing, causing lives to change, dreams to be shattered and in some cases children to be born to teenagers who aren’t ready to be parents yet. As such, my opinion is that parents should take steps to educate their children on the realities of such actions and help them see the consequences.

TiffanyS said...

I think it is okay for young kids to have cell phones, I had a cell phone when I was only 12. But, the problem is how kids are now using their phones. Now that kids seem to be more "mature", I think that they should have phones earlier on in life, because it seems that there are more situation in which they may need a cell phone. Twelve or Thirteen is probably around the right age for kids to start getting cell phones now. With that being said, their parents should monitor things like internet, and text messages being that they are so young. Cell phones are more of a safety net, than a means of real communication, when it comes to kids. Sure, they want all of the smart phones, but it seems a little useless. It gets kids in trouble and they end up getting in trouble for "sexting".
As for the television, its almost considered a necessity now. Parents also have ways to monitor what their kids are watching on tv now. There is no excuse parents to complain about what their kids watch on tv, because chances are they watch it with their parents, or their tv's are unmonitored. Any age is fine to have your own tv as long as time, and content are monitored.
All that being said, it is not easy to have a constant eye on kids, but you can try. If you think your kids will get in trouble with what you give them, then don't give them the privilege of having it.

Tiffany Simmons

Angela Williams said...

I think an appropriate age for teens to gain access to their own personal technology as far as cell phones is about ages 15 and up; right around the time frame of when they are getting ready to start high school. On the other hand, I think elementary and junior high level is too young to have a cell phone. I don’t think that this age group would really need a cell phone. High school students have more responsibility, and more is required of them the further they go up in their education. Therefore, computers are really necessary for students to have in order to help them complete their schoolwork. Almost everything that is done in
school today, whether you are in pre-school, elementary school, junior high, high school, or college, requires you to have an internet connection. High school students, college students, and junior high students have to turn in term papers, etc., which require them to have to do a lot of research. Students refer to the internet quite a bit as a part of their education. Therefore, having a computer at home is really not a bad thing. As a matter of fact, I think that owning a computer is a very good investment. At the present day and time, they even have computers in pre-school, and teachers are starting these kids out early on computers, which I think is great.
I think a child could have their own television in their room beginning at pre-school and beyond. My child is 6 years old, and he has his own TV in his room. He watches a lot of educational shows, which teach him a lot. He also watches a lot of cartoons. I know that now there are even cartoons that have explicit material in them, which just shocks me. Despite this, there are parental controls where parents can now block their child from viewing certain shows or accessing certain websites that are unsuitable to them, which allows parents to control what their child sees and hears.

As far as sexting, I am surprised that the recent polls show that only 1 out of 3 teens are sending or receiving sexual material on their cell phone. I expected the number to be at least 2 out of 3 because so much of that is going on. Sex is a hot topic with teenagers today. I bet 9 out of 10teens are sending or receiving sexual material over their cell phone. I think the reason sexting has become so popular today because teenagers are constantly being exposed to it. We see it happening around us all the time. They are talking about it all on TV. I think it is more of a peer pressure thing to where teenagers have the mentality that if everybody else is doing it, then I should to or I’m behind the times. It’s almost like when one person starts a trend, everybody wants to do it. They just don’t realize the danger of being careless when it comes to sex.

H. Michelle Awtry said...

I think that the age your teen gets a cell phone depends on their outside the home activities. If they play a sport and have to be at practice, etc then their need for communication would be higher than a teen who is not active in something that takes them away from jsut going to school and home. Also, once they start driving, I think they need a cell phone - for emergencies of course in the event that they need you or AAA. I'm 32 years old and I have had a cell phone (well a bag phone to start with) since I was 16 years old because my dad wanted to keep tabs on me once I started driving. I will do the same for my daughter.
If you have a montoring system on your computer and you have talked about inappropriate internet sites with your children, then I think middle age students (age 12 or so) should be allowed to have an internet connection in their room for their computer - esp if they are in advanced classes that require lots of research.
My little girl is 2 and has a TV in her room. I dictate when it can be watched and what is watched, but it is nice to be able to let her watch Elmo or such in her room while I clean house or cook. For older children, I think that the same holds true for what I stated about the computer. As long as you are monitoring your child, then I think it's okay for them to have a TV in their room.
I don't know how many teens are sending/receiving sexual messages via their phone, but I do know that parents can control what their teen has access to on their mobile device as far as internet connections and such. I think also monitoring their text messages is also a way to ensure the safety of your child. I think that they need some privacy, but I also believe that the parent has to be aware of what's going on in their teen's life. They need to keep in touch with them and acknowledge that there's always a chance your teen could be involved in inappropriate things. Parents need to be parents, not friends. That's what your child wants and needs anyway.

H. Michelle Awtry

glenda kees said...

I think a child having their own personal technology should be based on the maturity of the child and their level of responsibility. I don’t think a little kid should have their own cell phone; they should at least be a teenager and responsible enough to have a cell phone. My children were in high school when they got their cell phones and were based on their needs to have a cell phone. They also had a part-time job to help pay the bill. They knew there would be consequences if they did not use it right. I just don’t think small children should have a cell phone; they don’t have a reason to have one. The parents should be taking care of their needs.

A child having their own computer with an internet connection in their room should not happen. If they need to get on the internet, it should be done in the family room or den or where ever the internet is connected but not in the bedroom. The computer needs to be monitored. They can have a television, but it should be monitored and a child should not be allowed to watch anything they want. Also there should be a cut-off time for the television. The child must also be mature enough to have a television in their room

I heard of sexting on the news and I think some teens are doing it. I think it is so popular because they think that is a way for them to express themselves sexually without actually having sex. They think it is safer, but it’s not because I have heard that some of them send nude pictures of themselves. If a parent gets their child a cell phone they should be able to check it anytime they want to and see what they are texting out to other people. I think if parent would talk to and monitor their children more closely and not just let them run free with all this technology; it would be a better and safer world for our children.

JoycieW. said...

Access to their own personal technology has to based on their maturity level.

We have two children ages 19(daughter) and 11(son). My daughter said would die without a cell phone because “everyone” had one. She had her first job @ 16, so we added her to our plan with strict instructions that if she went over her allotted minutes, she would pay the balance. Well after going over her minutes several times and handing over her money, she finally realized she didn’t need to talk on her cell phone 24/7. Now my son is screaming, everyone has a cell phone. I keep asking him, who do you need to talk with that you can’t talk too on the house phone. The same rules apply to him. My husband thinks 16 is a little too old, so we agreed on 14 for him.

I wonder how we survived without all this technology, but we did and that’s what I tell my kids.

My daughter received a laptop her junior year in high school but no internet in her room. It wasn’t because we thought she was not mature enough, we only had internet connection to the computer in the den. My laptop is password protected.The computer in the den is used mainly by my son. We had to install security and sexual contents blocks on it because of some of the sites he had visited. Some of his friends had passed around a list of adult sites, so he decided to take a look and them. When I ran a history report on the computer, I dam near fell out the chair. You really have to monitor what sites they visit and limit the time they spend on the internet.

Both my kids have televisions in their rooms since an early age, but with blocks on the ratings and channels they can watch. We’ve had no problems with them and the television.

I really don’t know what to think about sending and receiving sexual material over the cell phones. I’ve been married 22 years and would never email a nude picture to my husband. That is why I can’t understand how kids can do that. The fear alone of that picture going “around” the world would scare me to death. Maybe it’s like the other post said, they may consider sexting as safe sex.

Kevin M Romero said...

I have 16, 12, and 9 year old daughters and my 16 and 12 year old daughters have cell phones. I believe that all kids want cell phones but I told them when they need them they can have them, and I decide when they need them. My 16 year old got her phone when she started playing sports and constantly needed to be picked up after practice and games. My 12 year old just received her cell phone when she started cheerleading in her middle school and again needed to call for rides. All of my children have access to the Internet, but understand that my wife is like a watchdog and constantly check their facebook and myspace accounts. We also, and they know it, check internet history. I believe their is no set age for kids to have access to these things, it is all about their needs and not their wants, and they understand that. My kids were allowed to have Televisions in their room, with cable access, when they turn 10. We set the V-Chips in their TV's for TV-14.

My 16 yr old daughter has heard about "sexting" and thankfull thinks it is sickining (or so she tells me). . We ocassionally check my dauthters text messages. I am not ignorant to believe that if she was sending and recieving these kinds of messages that she could just delete them quickly. I think kids do this out of ease and curosity, just like in the movies when boys drilled peep holes in bathroom's. I think cell phones are their new "peep holes"

S.Webb said...

The decision of when teens should be granted access to their own technological devices such as cell phones, personal computers with internet connections, and televisions should be based strictly upon the individual child’s maturity level. I don’t believe there is any way to pinpoint an exact age at which a teen should be allowed to use these technologies without parental supervision. Parents should evaluate how responsible and accountable their child is, and pair this with the child’s actual need for the technology before making a decision. I would estimate that in today’s society, a child should be at least 12 years old before acquiring their own cell phone. Before this age, they usually do not go many places without parental or adult supervision, so there should not be a great need for a personal cell phone. I feel that a child should not gain internet access in their room before the age of 16, and even if access is made available then, it should be monitored closely by parents. I believe access to a personal television should be more lenient. Anytime the parent deems appropriate after age 5 should be acceptable so long as proper parental controls are installed to restrict access to inappropriate channels.

In considering all of these things, the most important aspect is that parents should be in tune with their children and know them well enough to make an individualized decision based upon the needs and maturity level of their child. I will say, however, that we do not exist in a vacuum, and teens are going to be exposed to inappropriate content whether parents allow access to these technologies or not. The level of exposure may not be as great if parents restrict their children from having these types of technology, but in the world in which we live, unless children are completely isolated from society, there will be some amount of exposure to these things. This is why it is important for parents to know their children. They should talk to them everyday about what’s going on in their child’s life and make it a point to know where their children are, what they are doing, and who they are with. Instilling strong values in children and making sure they know the parent is involved will help them gain the maturity and accountability necessary to be able to sensibly use their own technological devices.

With regard to “sexting”, I believe that the trend has become so popular among teens because increased technology has made it easy to send sexually explicit text messages without anyone “knowing” what the teen is doing…until the message gets forwarded or shown to friends. At an age when hormones are undoubtedly raging, I feel that “sexting” arises out of curiosity and initial exploration into the world of sex. There is a comfort level provided by not being face to face that gives teens more audacity to say things they might not say otherwise. Unlike some of the previous posters, I disagree that “sexting” is a safe alternate to sex because I feel trend has the potential to start a long slide down a slippery slope that could easily lead to actual sexual relations. When an individual becomes more comfortable with their sexuality by sending and receiving explicit messages they become more relaxed and may take things a little farther and a little farther every step along the way to explore and satisfy their natural curiosity about sex. While “sexting” itself may be safer than sexual intercourse, it has every possibility of leading to premature sexual activity.

Andrew said...

I remember back in 2000, I was in college, and I remember getting my firest cell phone. It took me a while to make the decision, because I wasn't sure I needed it yet, or thought I was too young. Ten years later, we're debating if 12-year-olds (or even younger children) are entitled to cell phones or not. I remember what high school was like for me in the late-90s, and I wonder how much more ridiculous it would have been had cell phones been prominent for my friends.

Now, my daughter is almost two, and it's hard not to think about what kind of technology she should gave access to, and when. I know it's easy to say I will allow a TV in her room, but not cable, just a VCR or DVD for movies. I'd like the computer to be the "family computer" and not one in her room. And I'd like her to not have a cell phone until she's out of high school. However, seeing all these as future battles, I wonder how realistic my desires or expectations are.

As a parent, I'd like to have a lot of control over the media she is exposed to, what comes at her, and how her friends and people are able to communicate with her. By caving, and allowing cable, a computer with internet, and even a cell phone, I'm am undermining my efforts to maintain that control by allowing her the freedom.

Much of the reasoning behind allowing children to have cell phones was to make contact easy between parent-child, and for tracking purposes of the parent. Really though, this is just an excuse. Considering this is really a 10-year-old phenomenon, children have been apart from their parents and not died for tens of thousands of years. Even as far back as 20 years ago, children and parents managed adequately.

trinam24 said...

I think that a child needs a cell phone when he or she become driving age or is involved in extracurriculr activities such as: sports, band, choir, and etc. A child under 13 under no circumstances should own cell phone. I would consider giving a child a phone at age 13, but he or she would have limitations such as: only after school hours and when homework is complete and on the weekends. I would not let a child at this age carry a phone on a daily basis.

I don't think a child or teenager should have his or her own personal computer until he or she goes to college. The Internet is such a dangerous tool for young and irresponsible children. I would definitely talk with a child/teenager about Internet danger, but a computer that is shared by the family would be much more appropriate. Being in the family room using the computer as compared to a computer being in a child's room allows the parent to monitor how much time the child is on the computer and what he or she is doing on the computer.

I would feel comfortbale a child having a tv in his/her room. Parents can monitor and control the channels that a chid is able to view with satelite programming. Also, many children own video games and a lot of their time is spent playing the video games whether than wathing tv. But, the same rule applies, parents need to keep an eye on what their chid is viewing on tv.

Sexting is really popular these days because teens are living in a sexual aware culture. They do what they see on the music videos because that seems to be what people like. Teens are wanting to fit in and do what the crowd does and sadly, sexting and things of that nature is what is going on today. Sexting is really dangerous beause once a message is sent, there is no way of knowing who will see it or where it will be seen.

Ageyer said...

This is a very interesting topic for me. I am in my early thirties and have a five year old son. I am many years away from dealing with teenager issues. That all changed recently. I have a seventeen year old niece that was having trouble with her parent’s just move in to my house this weekend. She has a cell phone and has been on face book constantly. I now have to formulate opinions and create rules for a teenager. I believe like with anything you should have balance. Teenagers should have access to technology, but with limitations. I think cell phones are appropriate for teenagers sixteen years or older. If they are old enough to drive they are old enough to have a cell phone. My wife and I have decided to allow her to keep her cell phone, but put her on a limited plan. The phone and the plan will not have picture mail or internet. The plan will also have limited minutes and text messaging.

The computer is a whole other issue. With the amount of inappropriate information that can be easily accessed on the internet and t.v., we have strict rules for the family computer and television. My niece will not get a computer or a television in her room. These are both located in the family room, where everybody has access to them. These rules are in place because a lot of teens are sexting and sending inappropriate material to one another. These trends are popular because they pair accessible technology with teenagers raging hormones.

-Aaron Geyer

Joy said...

My opinion on these questions is that if parents guide their children and give them direction then allowing them access to technology should not be a problem at any age. With that being said, I don't think there is a magical age for a child to be given a cell phone, a computer or a TV. I think it is about each individual child and when the need arises for them to be introduced to such technology.
I don't have any children, but do know many families with very young children who have TV's in their rooms. Most parents I know monitor what their children watch and have parental controls set on the TV. I also know parents that allow their chidren to have cell phones and computers (with internet access) at young ages (9 or 10) but monitor their activity on both the cell phone and internet very closely.
I don't labor under the delusion that every parent monitors the activity of their children and this is were I think these technologies can be abused and misused. Children crave direction and if its not given to them, they flounder ("sexting" is a good example of this floundering) and get involved in things they should not. It has been many years since I was a teenager but the problems of my youth always stemmed from lack of direction. I think it is the same thing today. You can give children access to technology and information if parents take a vested interested in education and monitoring of these tools.
-Elizabeth Wright

Cornela357 said...

I believe that we as parents must decide when our teens should access to their own personal technology. As a mother of four, I have different allowances for each child. When my son was 15, I allowed him to have his own contract cell phone. Whenever I allowed him on the computer (set with parental controls of course), the sites he visited were very mild. So the decision to allow him to have a cell phone was easy. As for my daughter who is now 14, I have given her a prepaid cell phone. Even though I am not able to check her text messages, I am able to control her usage. She understands the privilege of a contract comes with age. As for a computer, I have the PC in my bedroom with parental controls and time allowances set, ending at 9pm. The public school system has made the decision to allow them to have personal access quite simple. This school year, my 17 and 14 year old will be given laptops in place of textbooks. I do not k now the specifics, but I do hope they will be loaded with internet controls and content permissions.
As for televisions, all of my children have their own. With the technology of DirecTV, I can control the time the receiver will show programming and the types and channels they are allowed to view. As a broad overview of all televisions, I have locked all receivers with a pass code that prevents the household from viewing adult programs or titles in the guide. Some people would say that young children should not have a television in their room. I disagree because each child is different and each household is different. My children would rather know they could just hear the television while playing or talking to me, than to be fully engaged in the program itself. On an average, they watch about an hour to an hour and a half of television programs every three days, if you were to add all of the minutes together.
Sexting is to acknowledge this trend as a sign of the times. There was wave of sexual activity not too long ago that believed that oral sex was not really sex. Sexting is just another level of this belief. Its popularity is growing because teens are looking for a safe way to release their sexual frustrations. Even though it sets the stage for exploitation of our youth, it sets the tone for a natural curiosity of the opposite sex. Long time ago, chat rooms was the place naughty things were expressed. However, teens today have not been taught how to express their curiosity. Ironically, the same people that were never taught how to express their curiosity are confused as to why teens are doing what they are doing.

Tyler Thomas said...

I have 2 children ages 8 and 10. I have recently gotten each one of them a cell phone. The only reason is that when they spend the night with relatives or friends, we want a sure fire way to keep in touch. In case of an emergency, they are able to call home. My wife and I have debated the issue of purchasing them a cell phone, but I felt it was time. With today's kids, it seems that technology has become more prevalent even in the younger ages. I don't want the children to stay on the phone all day texting, but it is a great tool in case of emergencies.

We also have two computers. A desktop PC in the den that we can monitor whenever someone is online. Also, we have a laptop for personal use. We limit the childrens' access to the computer and also only allow use on certain websites. Even with the young age, the children still know more about using computers and technology than me or my wife did at that age (which may be concerning). We feel that with the growing levels of technology, we want the children to be exposed to this while being responsible. As they get older, we will press harder for them to be responsible and not abuse technology.

I am concerned with the growing issue of people "sexting." Although it is an alternative to actually participating in intercourse, it is, in my opinion, a gateway that can lead to this. Also, kids can be exposed to sexual predators through these methods. It is scary that one day, the kids will have to make their own decisions in regards to this matter, but hopefully, the values we instill upon them will pay off.

-tyler thomas

Chintan Desai said...

In this ever-changing world, technology is the leader in change. Every year, technology gets an upgrade. The simple fact of the matter is that our youth should be introduced to technology at the earliest age. This will allow our children to be successful in the real world when they are adults. However, there are dangerous issues with technology which our children will not understand. Should we allow our children to be exposed to such a dangerous tool?

Personally, I think children should have access to a personal technology of their own at the earliest age possible. Technology allows for a one year old to have a personal computer with limited functions which will improve their learning skills. Personal technologies such as cell phones are a tricky issue. I feel a child should be given access to their own cell phone at the age of 14. Cell phone companies allow parents to restrict the functions of their child’s cell phone. The issues with cell phones are the people whom the child decides to communicate with. Parents hold the role of helping their children acquaint themselves with individuals who hold high values and morals.

Teenagers should have access to their own computer with internet access at the age of 15. At the age of 15, the teenager is entering his or her high school career which is the most important time in a person’s education career. The computer will allow a teenager the additional resources to be successful. Issues such as social media on the internet are seen as dangerous mediums for teenagers. For this reason, parents should hold a tight relationship with their children in which the child should feel comfortable in discussing their social life.

Social interaction exists in all mediums of technology. The most prevalent social medium is texting. With texting, a new sensation has emerged called sexting. Sexting is when an individual receives sexual materials as a text message. I feel that anyone who has texting abilities has been involved in texting. This includes incidents where the individual did not participate in the act of sexting but a message with sexual materials was submitted to his or her phone. The trend of sexting has become an epidemic because just about every teenager has access to a cell phone. This is the means of communication for most children with their peers.

Technology will always be prevalent. It’s a matter of adapting to the technology. Both parents and school administrators should keep open communication with their children which will allow for some prevention measures.