Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Teenagers and Mobile Technology

For many years LeeLee has pestered for her own mobile phone.

Today we ate burnt chicken soup for lunch.

What is the connection? Well read on.........

When we lived in Surrey, we had to put up with the usual:
'All my friends have a mobile, and a TV/video in their room, and their own computer! Why can I not have one? It's not fair!'

The thing to note is that this started when she was 8 years old and yes, just about all her friends in the affluent South of England did have mobiles and TV/videos/computers in their bedrooms at that age!!!

Being 'nasty' parents, Richard and I refused to be swayed. As far as we were concerned, children are part of a family and should not spend all their time in their bedrooms watching God knows what on TV, looking at uncontrolled web pages, etc. Also we believe firmly that you buy them technology when it is NEEDED not when it is just WANTED!

When we moved to France, the 'need' for a mobile phone was still regularly argued by LeeLee. However, as we invariably pointed out, it was even less required here! She was taken and picked up at school by a bus from our front door. She did not go out clubbing (there are no clubs here!), did not attend late night parties (they do not have them here!) and on the rare occasions when she did need a mobile phone - Richard's one was available for her to use. They were allowed to call their friends on the home phone at any time.

Note that the demand for TV/videos and computers in the bedroom has ceased - because none of their friends here in the South of France have them. They spend far more time out and about walking/cycling and as a family, and do not watch TV very often. They were very impressed when they discovered that we had a family computer!

As LeeLee approached her 16th birthday, we said that she was allowed to have a mobile as her present from us, on the understanding that she would fund the phone calls from her allowance. Yippee! she said.

As the special day approached, she came to talk to Richard and I - she had decided that it was not worth having one. She felt that she would be 'wasting' her birthday money on something she would seldom actually need, and would rather spend the money on clothes! Result!!

As her and her friends approached their 17th birthdays, they came up with an interesting idea. They all buy little presents for each other, usually under10 euros, because they do not get lots of pocket money - unlike their contemporaries in Surrey! So why not pool their money and buy a mobile phone for the birthday person each time. That way they each end up with a good phone - whereas if a parent chose one, it probably would not have all the extras that they wanted as well!

It worked fine, and when her turn came round, LeeLee received for her 17th birthday a 'just what she wanted' mobile phone from her friends and was delighted.

Now, they all have to pay for their own calls from their allowances, and it is amazing what they work out to be most cost effective. Where there is a will there is a way! Basically they text rather than call. By leaving a very small amount on their 'pay as you go' they are able to continue texting for free.

What this means is that we have to text or leave a voicemail for LeeLee on her phone. It is no good expecting her to answer it - that costs money for Gods sake, and it would be HER money!

So move on to yesterday. We were due at college for Nic's parents/teachers meeting which was not going to finish until 19:00. LeeLee would get home at 18:00.

Something simple was needed for dinner that would cook whilst we were at college. I put a chicken in to roast and just needed LeeLee to switch off the oven when she got home.
Richard texted her at 17:15 when she would be out of classes and on her way home on the bus.

Richard left a voicemail at 17:40.

As we left the college at 19:00, I phoned the home machine and spoke to LeeLee to check she had got the messages and switched off the oven.

What messages she asked?! The ones Dad had been leaving for her on her mobile!!

Oh, you mean the mobile that did not have enough charge in it for her to access her messages?!

Not impressed, we got home to a burnt roast chicken and a teenager who said - I often forget to fully charge it because it still works for the things I need it for - like as a mirror, and for photos!

All I can say is - it was a bloody expensive mirror and camera!!!

Whenever we have a roast chicken, we always have homemade chicken soup the next day (I am a bit of a Jewish Mama), so today it was a new recipe - burnt chicken soup!

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