Guest Author - Dominique Jordan
It's safe to say that every teenager has a cell phone these days. We are more connected to each other than ever before. We can text with the touch of a few buttons, show our humor with emoticons, and wait for weekends when we can use our free minutes. Along with the added connection, there are some pitfalls that are easy to get into unless you are aware and prepared. The first is with parents, the second is with the law, and the third is with friends. Here is how you can avoid all of them and stay connected.
Most likely, your parents bought your phone for you, are paying for the service or a combination of both. They may have made a very clear agreement with you about how the cell phone is going to work or they may not have. The biggest issue that teens get into with parents about cell phones is going over minutes or going over texts. Itís a very easy thing to do and very costly. And when your parents get that phone bill of hundreds of dollars, something bad is going to come down. Cools will be lost at the very minimum and after that comes everything from allowance to minutes to privileges and perhaps the very phone itself.
To avoid this very common and frustrating scenario, keep very familiar with your phoneís tracking system. They almost all have them. Track your minutes and track your texts. Ask your parents how many texts and minutes you can use in a given month. Figure out when that month starts and stops by looking at the billing statement (your parents can help you with this). Often it is not just the first of the month through the end and this can screw things up if you arenít careful. Then ask your parents for very clear numbers of minutes and texts that you personally can use. Sometimes parents give you the number of minutes or texts for the entire family plan that they have purchased and you assume that is the number you can use. Make sure to be clear about how many are for you alone and then track them.
Additionally, if your phone has internet capabilities, make sure to ask your parents if you are supposed to be using them. Many teens use the internet on their phone without knowing that it is costing them a lot of money to connect each time. The same goes for downloading music, games and other applications. Be very clear about what you can and cannot do before you get into trouble.
Many phones have picture capabilities these days. While this is very fun, you need to be aware of when you can and canít use this option. Especially if you plan on posting the pictures online. Without written permission from a person, posting their pictures online can cause big trouble. Especially if they are scandalous. So before you post, make sure to ask. And as a side note, anyone under eighteen cannot give their own permission. You have to ask their parentsí permission for it to be legal.
You also need to be aware of laws regarding cell phones and driving. While it is never safe to drive while using the phone Ė either talking or texting, some states have made it against the law as well. The best bet is just to leave your phone alone while behind the wheel. Many teen lives have been lost because of cell phones. No matter how good a driver or texter you are, cell phones are just too much of a distraction from the important task of driving.
Cell phones and friends seem to be the best mix of all but you also need to be aware of how cell phones can make relationships difficult. For instance, if you regularly take calls or text while you are with someone face to face. This can be distracting and also tells the person you are with that they are only second best to the person you are talking to.
Make sure you try to practice cell phone etiquette with your friends or in groups of people. No matter how cool your Fall Our Boy ringtone is, it will still be a distraction in a movie theater, a class or other gathering so use your silencer or vibrate option prudently.
Realize that talking on the phone or texting is really never as good as talking face to face. Good communication requires facial expressions you lose on the phone and tone that you can never really replace with a smiley face. So no matter how connected you are with your friends by phone, always make sure to make room for face time as well.