Today my 17 year old called me on my cell phone at home. His brother brought me my ringing phone because I keep my phone in my purse and only use it when I'm out. I still use a land line when at home. I'm puzzled why he's calling my cell number, since he knows I wouldn't have my phone on me, and after I say hello, he asks whether I called him or he called me. No joking. And this from the kid currently enrolled in 4 AP classes and who is using a "smart" phone.
He seems to be on his phone for a significant amount of the time he is home, though it is rarely up to his ear, and he is offended when I ever suspect out loud that he's not using it for homework or another valid reason. He uses it to keep up on facebook, contacts everyone (including organizing the church youth group--don't get me wrong, I don't think everything he uses it for is a waste of time), keeps track of all kinds of things, and actually does do homework on it, even while he's physically at the family computer doing more.
We all know technology is changing our world rapidly, but the funny, quirky things that happen because every kid (just ask your child, every kid has their own phone, except maybe yours) has their own cell phone are another thing that makes the experiences of this generation of kids (and their parents) unique from the experiences of the previous ones.
Also today, my 14 year old calls me from school. He probably would have texted, but I've told him before that I don't really have time to text (I don't have as fancy a phone as he does, and besides, my "h" button doesn't work) and just to call. Had I called my parents from school back in the day, it probably would have been with the office phone. But I pick up the phone and I hear all kinds of ruckus in the background. "Quiet everybody! I can't hear!" He yells away from the phone. Obviously not calling from the office . . .
You'd think with all this phone activity, our phone manners would get plenty of practice, but somehow instead, manners have been left behind. I suppose, as the parent, I just have myself to blame. But kids are using phones to call other kids so much, that their phone interaction with adults, and thus their example or desire to comply with their opinions, is minimal.
So far this school year, when my high school sophomore gets home each day, he plops down on the couch and continues texting. He ocassionally puts it to his ear for an urgent call, but there's a whole lot of texting going on. Sure glad for his sake that it's free.
I asked my sister-in-law for my nephew's cell number the other day. She gave it to me but added that he probably didn't have his phone, as he is prone to leaving it places. He has lost several phones in just a few months. Since she wants him to have a phone, she can't just let the natural consequence ride, whereas our boys want phones (and nicer phones) more than we want them to have them, and since they've bought their own phones with lawn mowing money, and though there have been a couple of cracked screens, they are pretty careful not to lose their phones.
Way back before the kids had phones, I lent my son my phone as he ran some errands around the neighborhood on his bike. We never saw that phone again.
I haven't fully solved the problem of socks and backpacks being left out, but we rarely find a phone left around. The best part about this system is it's not me having to pick them up. My 6 year old, who does not have her own phone, loves to "borrow" her brothers' phones if she finds them lying around, particularly the iphones, which have cool games. Her brother who leaves it around the most put a locking code on it, which she then tries to guess, which then locks the phone for 10 minutes for each attempt. So if he leaves his phone out, there is a good chance that when he finds it, it will be disabled for the next hour. So beautiful, and I didn't have anything to do with it.
We've always been an anti-video game family, but we can't completely ban video games unless we also ban phones. Which we've kind of gotten accustomed to having ourselves. I do like being able to text a kid and say "Where are you?" Oh well, at least we've kept gaming activity below average.
Our pre-teen likes to change his phone's skin, which his big brother helped him buy online. Yes, we are from another time. In fact, things are going so quickly that it seems my teenage boys are from a different era than my little girls. Who knows what they'll be into in 10 years when they are teenagers.
This kid does still like to get out and do stuff with friends. Right now he is on a bike ride with another boy in the neighborhood, even though we've been having record breaking heat. The new twist with getting together with friends, though, is that if they don't answer their phones, they are defined as unreachable. They're only 12 years old, so their phone maintainence isn't as honed as the older teens. Battery dead? Unreachable. Left the phone in a different room? Unreachable. Don't have their cell number? Unreachable. "We have their home number. Why don't you just call on the home phone?" I ask. "No way, besides, someone else might answer." He's come to the conclusion that this is one area that I just don't understand. Isn't being able to call someone's home phone an important skill? Maybe I'm just old fashioned. Certainly wouldn't be the first time.
But the whole personal phone movement has changed the society of the new generation in even more ways. My oldest makes his lunch money by fixing broken phones, replacing screens, "jail breaking," and who knows what. He receives little packages from Hong Kong regularly, has his own ebay and Paypal accounts, and occasionally strangers show up at our door and ask for him. He wants to spend more time developing "apps," as that would be more lucrative, and wishes for a Mac to pursue that dream. I suggested that he create an app that lets him know when his laundry is done and ready to go into the dryer.
I know, as I've been told over and over again, that all of your kids (at what age does this start now?) have their own phones. You must have some good stories to share . . .