2023 Author: Anita Thornton | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-22 03:30
Need a cell phone? Really? Useful, perhaps, but mom and dad must closely monitor the management of this communication tool, on which the happiness of teenagers now depends!
Fortunately, children under the age of 11 do not yet seem to have suffered the "contamination" of cell phone use. In fact, there is no minimum age for owning a cell phone in Quebec and the province has no law to regulate it, indicates Myriam Chagnon, advisor for the youth component of the organization Option consommateurs. “On the other hand, technically, companies cannot have customers who are under 18 sign a contract; the contract is in the name of the parent, it is he who guarantees the child. As for the age at which a young person should have a cell phone, it is the responsibility of the parents to determine that,” she explains.
Once a cell phone is purchased for a young man or girl, its use should be closely supervised for young people under the age of 11, says Jeff Gagnon, education specialist at the Réseau Éducation-Médias. Because we must not forget that several devices allow access to the Internet, a source of danger for the youngest…young people over 11, parents should still keep an eye out,” he adds.
In Canada, the average age for first device ownership among teenagers was 14 in 2010 and two out of three teenagers had their own. Ms. Chagnon affirms that the increase over the past ten years is substantial, without being able to cite figures to support this observation. “Technology is changing and there are more and more offers on the market,” she adds.
A cellphone? Why?
But what is this magnet that sees young people proliferate in the shops where cellphones are sold? They generally answer that for them, it is a NECESSITY… which does not mean that it is necessarily useful, points out Ms. Chagnon. “For them, it is an indispensable tool for social life. It is an essential means of communication; text messages are very popular with them,” she continues.
Jeff Gagnon goes further by pointing out that the abundance of applications – such as games – is proving to be a powerful attraction for young people, as well as the possibility of staying connected to their social networks. Teenagers also say that their device gives them a sense of security, since it allows them to communicate with their parents or friends at any time. Security is also the key argument of parents who accede to their teenager's pleas for a cell phone; they can thus reach him at any time, which is of course reassuring… “Cellphones can becomethe main computer for people who don't have one at home, adds Mr. Gagnon. This can be useful, for example, for researching school homework…»
Addicted to their little technological miracle, young people? Maybe, yes, but we are talking about excessive use, rather than addiction, according to the Media Awareness Network.
If your teenager's beautiful tech tool is eating away at their sleep and social life, if all of their parties are spent online, and if their academic performance is suffering from its use, parents should consider cracking down, argues M. Gain.
The excesses of cell phone ownership among young people often bear the color of money. “There are often cost overruns; the teenager will want the most recent model, for example, and we see that it is a three-year contract… Or else he does not respect the limits of his package,”says Myriam Chagnon.
Smartphones, which provide access to a host of applications and games, can also play tricks on parents, continues Jeff Gagnon. In fact, in addition to the payment of the subscription, some games require the disbursement of a small amount of money at different stages of the game, which is generally added to the balance of the credit card of dad or mum…
Before even agreeing to the request of your teenager, it is imperative to properly judge whether his sense of responsibility is sufficiently developed to properly use theprecious object. We can first determine the maximum monthly amount that we wish to devote to it (“we” refer here to the parents!). The Option consommateurs advisor recommends diving with one of the least expensive devices, while opting for the prepaid card package, so that parents are able to control costs.
We must also define the guidelines for its use: will we allow him to have it with him all day, which includes at school (some establishments prohibit the wearing of cell phones), while he does his homework, even at night? “We can give ourselves a margin of a few months to assess the needs of the young person, but also their habits of use,” suggests Ms. Chagnon.
Also don't forget the pitfalls of the Internet, points out Jeff Gagnon. The teenager must be well aware of the fact that all the information or data he sends on the Web remains indefinitely in his nets…
The efforts and supervision of parents during the acquisition of the device sometimes come up against sales tactics in cellphone shops, underlines Ms. Chagnon. The information inherent in the user contract is often only partially disclosed. Thus, a study carried out by Option consommateurs in 2007 and presented to Industry Canada's Office of Consumer Affairs reveals that only 19.5% of sellers have asked young "spy" buyers to they plan to use their cell phone often and for a long timeand only six of them explained to them the difference between an "à la carte" service and a package… Here is a strong argument to convince parents to offer their now adult child a little lesson in careful reading of contracts 101 …!
advertising also bears a small part of the responsibility for young people's cell phone addiction, admits Ms. Chagnon, even though the law does not allow advertisers to target young people to 13 and under. “We will not be able to protect children against advertising; rather, they need to be equipped to assess the information as accurately as possible,” she adds.