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ways to track your teen
by Kim Watts
Photographs by ]ean M. O’Dette
Honestly, have teenagers ever met a phone they didn't like? Parents may be corr
cerned that their AD/ HD teen could make impulsive long-winded calls to friends,
or might be distracted by calls during school or study time. For the most part,
though, the novelty of cell phones has worn off, and usually kids make practical
use of family phones. Current studies show that teen girls, prime suspects for cost-
ly chats, use their wireless phones to keep in touch with parents first, friends sec-
ond, emergencies third and boyfriends — dead last.
For all the communications gadgets out there, cell phones win hands down for
ease of use. Wireless providers have become hip to the needs of both parents and
kids. Result ~ teens can select from a wide array of sleek, modern and colorful
phones and parents can choose a shared or prepaid calling plan they don't have
to sweat. Most major wireless providers feature minute pools that can he shared
by up to five phones; AT&T and Cingular offer unlimited calling between family
members. Pre—paid plans like Sprint's Wireless Allowance limit talk time for teens
with impulse control issues.
F‘ag<ers and TvvoAWay Text [Vlessci-ngers
Good for parents who can’t make or receive many personal calls at work,
two—way text messengers such as Motorola’s Talkabout T900 are ideal for
instant communication with minimal distraction. Since the messenger is e—
mail based, access to the Internet or a second T900 is necessary to commu—
nicate quickly; however, the device will store messages while turned off, so
that nothing is missed.
“To be useful, you really need two, ” says ]udy German, who tried the T900
with her thirteen year—old AD/ I-ID son. “it took me a while to master the
technology, but my son picked it up immediately. " ]udy’s son carried the
pager, and her primary concern was that the device was so compact (it’s
designed for to fit in pockets) that he could easily lose it. He didn't.
A bonus for ADIHD teens is that the text messenger can be programmed
with reminders and alerts (for things like medication and soccer practice)
and can be set to vibrate so it won't disturb class — or movie dates‘.
Traditional pagers, or beepers, offer a more economical way for parents to
message their teens — however, communication is limited since the messag-
ing is one-way.
3 ADDitude MarchlApn'l 2002
8 ADDitude March/ April 2oo2
ADDitude’s Editor in Chief Ellen Kingsley swears by ‘em. ’ On ski vacations, camp-
ing, shopping trips and jaunts around the neighborhood, two—way radios (a mod—
em version of the CB) keep everyone available at the touch of a button, without
a service plan.
weather channels, have a range of approximately two miles. They are wonderful
for group activities within that boundary, but out of range is out of touch.
radio feature with regular cell phone calling. The private direct connect feature
works up to hundreds of miles away, and doesn’t use valuable "minutes" in a call»
Digital Angel is a new technology, and its components can be relatively
pricey. It is primarily marketed ﬁn the very young, the elderly, or people
with serious medical conditions who would be willing to wear the locating
devices. If you suspect your teen wouldn’t wear it, don’t waste your money.
Daily, face—to«face communication with your teen is not an optional gadget. It is
your most important, effective means of keeping in touch with your teen. Make
family dinners a regular occurrence in your home so that parents and kids can
share their day. Have family “Game Nights" to promote closeness and conversa-
tion. Ask your teen what’s going on at school. Invite their friends in to meet you
(ALL of their friends). Ask where they’re going, and with whom — and be explic—
it about rules, curfews and limits. Teens may not always comply, but without
boundaries they're guaranteed to feel lost. -1