Last week, I was visiting with my sister about our life as teens. We had one phone line for five girls and one boy. Our brother was the youngest and really never needed the phone.


Can you imagine one phone for a family of eight? Was it hard?

Last week, I was visiting with my sister about our life as teens. We had one phone line for five girls and one boy. Our brother was the youngest and really never needed the phone.

Can you imagine one phone for a family of eight? Was it hard?

Yes, sometimes we would fight over the phone, and sometimes it was a battle.

We’d tell on each other, pull the receiver or phone cord from the other sister, and even hide the phone.

Now, that was a task. In those days, phones were as big as two stacked bricks. Plus, you could not unplug the phone from the wall. Yet, we were grateful to have a phone. Mom often reminded us that she had no phone when she was a teenager.

My sister and I laughed about the rules and how we could only be on the phone for five minutes. There was one phone line and there were only two telephones in the house, one downstairs and one upstairs. We did not have call waiting, call forwarding or caller ID.

Most importantly, we could only use the phone after our house work and homework were done.

You know, I believe the phone rules, and limits, kept us out of trouble.

On top of that, when using the phone, everyone was in the same room as the phone. It was impossible to say bad things or plan bad things. Someone was always listening.

And if you said something wrong, one sister (usually Judy) would tell on you. If Mom heard anything questionable, she’d take our phone privileges from us.

Compare that with today, in a world where every teenager has their own cell with unlimited usage.

When I was substitute teacher, I had first graders who had cell phones. Imagine that?

I’ve heard parents mention that the cell is the best way for them to stay in touch with their kids. A child can call them after a sport practice and a parent can call the child when they need to come home.
That is good, but what about the other 23 hours of the day?

Can a cell phone parent?

Yes, a cell can provide protection, if something goes wrong or they need help.

But for the other 23 hours, can a parent see what their child is doing or what they are doing, because they have a cell phone?

Do we know who our teens are with, where they are, and if they’re texting while they’re driving? Do we know what they are searching for on the Internet?

I read the other day (Nielson, 2009) that the average teen sends 2,899 test messages per month, about 95 a day, which is up 566 percent from 2007.

And today, the messages are not just words, they are pictures. There is bullying. There are threats. There is nastiness.

I don’t know. Technology is increasing faster than I can keep up with. The rules for a teens’ usage, should increase, likewise.

Growing up, we had simple phone rules with five-minute limits. If you don’t have rules for a teens’ 24 hour private line, maybe you should.  It’s great incentive for housework and homework. Plus, it should be a privilege, not a right.

Remember, someone has to be paying for the phone. Perhaps, the owner could be in charge.