Cell phones can be a great tool for parents to stay in touch with their teenage kids and monitor their activities. Cell phones can also be a vital means for teens to contact parents and authorities in emergencies. Unfortunately, without proper supervision and responsible use, they can also have costly, and sometimes long-term or permanent consequences.
At Sleep 2008, the Associated Professional Sleep Societies U.S. conference, researchers from Sahigren's Academy in Gothenburg, Sweden, presented data about sleep disruption affecting teens who used their cell phones frequently. Groups of adolescents were divided by those who made fewer than five calls or text messages daily, and those who made more than 15 per day. When studying the participants’ sleep patterns, the latter group showed signs of insomnia and restlessness. Gaby Badre, MD, Ph.D., one of the study's authors, suggested limiting cell phone usage and designating cell-phone free time slots to prevent the stress associated with constant contact.
A frustrated parent, in a September 2008 Bankrate.com article about the high cost of high-tech teens, complained of monthly bills ranging from $360 to $1,100 for her teen's cellular phone bills. The charges were a result of excess minutes, text and SMS message fees, and music downloads. Such excessive bills are not unusual. In the article, writer Karen Haywood Queen suggests that parents have their teen foot the bill to encourage them to be fiscally responsible.
According to a 2010 National Safety Council report, more accidents were caused by drivers using a cell phone than those driving drunk. Results of the Allstate Foundation study called Shifting Teen Attitudes: The State of Teen Driving in 2009 show that a whopping 49 percent of teenagers say texting is a distraction to their driving. As a result of this widespread problem, many municipalities have banned cell phone use while driving and are imposing heavy fines for texting while at the wheel.
As reported in Mail Online, the web service of the U.K newspaper Daily Mail, Dr. Gerald Hyland of the University of Warwick linked cell phone use to low-thermal radiation. Hyland warns that children are in a higher risk group "because their immune systems are less robust and still developing" and "their skulls are smaller and thinner and radiation was able to penetrate." The effects of this radiation on brain rhythms can result in headaches, loss of memory and trouble sleeping, he says.
Teachers and police quoted in a Fox News report in 2008 warned of a trend in teen dating--trading provocative or explicit messages, photos and videos by cell phone. California teacher Candice Kelsey says the epidemic crosses religious and economic boundaries but notes that attention-seeking girls are often more vulnerable.
The ease of uploading an image online or forwarding it to countless friends often means an intimate image can go global, or at minimum, to an entire school in a matter of minutes. An embarrassing photo can become a disciplinary problem at school or, as in the 2008 case of some Cleveland, Ohio, students, even have legal repercussions, as in many states sending explicit images is a crime.