Registered: May 2000
Location: St. Paul, MN
Here's a teens perspective:
I got my phone for my 16th birthday. My parents paid for it. My brother the year before had gotten one for his 19th birthday and I was feeling left out, but there were many other factors of why I needed my own phone. A year and a half later, I'm paying for my own bill. It's an interesting mix, about half of my friends have phoens paid for by parents, and half of them have phones paid for by themselves.
We had one landline, and I was starting to use it at odd hours for conference calls for TC, and for other random phone calls. Also, it was becoming a fact that for me to be able to do any future work on TC, I needed a phone myself. (that whole combination treo/cellphone thing)
More importantly my high school swimming habit was showing the need for a cellphone because I would constantly need to call my parents to ok me to go out for dinner, or go out with friends after a meet. The more independant I became, the more important it was to my parents and myself that we had a line of communication between us.
I think that both my family has found cellphones to be very helpful tools. I use it as my own line, my own voicemail, for work, for whatever. They use it to be able to contact me when I am on one of my normal 7 am to 7 pm school/sports days. My mom has a phone, my dad has a phone, and if I need to contact them when they are at work, doing parental duties whatever - I can. It's a nice arrangement.
Speaking of cars, I think that any teenager who drives should have some type of cellphone on them. We don't know what to do when we get in trouble, we're still teenagers, and it's a godsend to be able to call our parents when something happens and be like mom! help, what do I do in this situation... (in a good way). I know many teenagers who have a prepaid cellphone sitting in their glove compartment just for that purpose.
In terms of general age, the general trend amoung students at my highschool is that when they reach a certain amount of maturity, independance, normally aroudn the age of 16 they get cellphones. I know 13 year olds who have them, but I think that is too young (whats the point), but I don't see how you could be in college without a cell phone - it's just such as useful tool.
I must admit I don't feel teathered to my parents through the phone (even if I'm teathered to the damned treo- stupid thing having 4 years of my life in it). If I don't want to talk to my parents I can turn off wireless/ignore their calls. I think the thing about the phone is that it lets me have better communication, without forcing me to do it.
And phones in my public highschool are no problem. I would venture to say that at least 50% of the people have them, and they ring in class about once a year per class. There is a social standerd that you just don't let your phone ring in class. You see people using them during passing time, sending sms's during class, but there is a certain amount of respect that I see in how they are used in school. The only phones I have seen taken away are from ruthless administrators - teachers either don't care, or dont' care to be bothered by them.
My last opinion is for tracking. If my parents were able to track me I would drop the phone instantly. There is a certain amoutn of trust a parents has to give a teenager at a certain age for them to be content (and safe). Tracking would negate any trust a parents would give to their kids. My parents trust me to tell them the truth about what I'm doing, and generally that is the case - if they didn't trust me, I would feel no reason to tell them ANYTHING about my life at all (and as a teenager I don't tell them much as it is). To all the parents on this board, I can only ask for them to trust their kids. If you trust us, we'll trust you back and tell you more about what we are doing/have done. If getting your child a cellphone will enable you to feel that you can trust your kid more, while letting them grow indepednantly and find theirselves, go for it.