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Cellphones, Texting and Cell Phone Distractions (page 2)

By — GuardingKids.com
Updated on Apr 29, 2010

Cell Phone Distractions

“Driving While Dialing.” In November of 2005 a Highlands Ranch, Colorado 17-year-old allegedly lost control of his car while text-messaging and hit a bicyclist who died two days after the accident. The boy was charged with a misdemeanor which comes with a maximum sentence of one year in prison.

The fact that cell phones pose a great risk when combined with driving cannot be of any surprise to anyone. Let’s face it. First, drivers must take their eyes off the road while dialing. Second, people can become so absorbed in their conversations or other cell phone use that their ability to concentrate on the act of driving is severely impaired, jeopardizing the safety of vehicle occupants and pedestrians alike. In fact, the National Highway Transportation Safety Association has determined that driver inattention is a primary or contributing factor in as many as 25 percent of all police-reported traffic accidents.9 It’s not just talking and text messaging, the two most popular cell phone applications. Remember, cell phones have – and will continue to expand their capabilities as a central communication/collaboration device which already includes access to the World Wide Web, global positioning system (GPS) navigation, camera, voice memo recorder, productivity tools, e-mail clients, and much more. Already available is the ability to watch live television on your cell phone through cell phone service providers and other companies such as mobitv (http://www.mobitv.com/). So, in addition to drinking and driving, parents ought to seriously consider a rule for their children that includes no cell phone use and driving.

Time Away from Homework. Technology affords teens (and adults) a host of ways to do something other than what they are supposed to such as homework. In the adult world, it is a common experience that the lines between work and leisure have been blurred. Adults often work at home and play at work – e-mailing and text messaging friends and family, passing along jokes and family photos, shopping, viewing pornography, reading the news, and even gambling. Business owners are increasingly relying on stealth spying programs to snoop on their employees to make sure that their activities are both appropriate and work related. Their bottom lines are at stake. As parents, we too have the responsibility to help our children focus on their productivity. Their “bottom lines” are academic achievement and success.

Socializing on the phone while trying to do homework or study, no matter what your teen says, is not optimal. Realize too that you may not even hear a child talking on the phone and assume that the silence emanating from their rooms is the sound of a diligent student being productive. Realize, however, that children can use their cell phones for a variety of purposes that goes beyond talking such as updating their online blog (e.g., see Nokia Lifeblog which automatically builds your diary as you take photos and videos, and send and receive messages; see http://europe.nokia.com/nokia/0,,71742,00.html), text messaging, or posting photos to their social network spaces such as MySpace.

Since consumers must be 18 in order to purchase a cell phone contract in the United States, most parents are buying the phones their children carry. This is good news because parents can choose a plan that fits how the cell phone will be used and can review monthly cell phone bills which typically includes a log itemizing phone activity. However, problems still exist. For one, children can quickly go over their allotted minutes which can leave their parents with bills that can easily approach hundreds of dollars for the month. One thing that helps is the availability of cell phone plans that include unlimited minutes during certain hours or between certain cell phone carriers.

Choosing a plan with unlimited minutes can ease the risk of mounting monthly phone charges although does not solve the problem of understanding what kids do with those unlimited minutes. For instance, cell phone features such as text messaging and Web browsing are increasingly included in bundles with extra weekend and night minutes, in essence, giving children unlimited and unsupervised access to each other and to the Internet. Thus, parents who have a supervision system that works for computers at home may unknowingly give their children a work-around for getting into trouble outside of the home in a way that is even more convenient to the child.

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