Technology, Teens, and Trust: The 3 Ts of Parenting

Technology has come a long way, and for better or worse, it’s changed the way we deal with our children. The first time my daughter asked me how old I was when I got a cell phone, she nearly had a coronary when I said mid-twenties—and seemed only mildly pacified when I explained they didn’t exist before then.

Back when cell phones first came out, we called them car phones. The very first models came attached to cars, making conversation mobile. Ingenious! When the first truly mobile phones hit the market, they were huge. I’d have sooner put a brick in my purse than my first cell phone, so I left it in the car. If I was out and needed a phone, I’d locate a pay phone or use a landline. pay phone

During the dark ages of mobile devices, I signed up to take a watercolor painting class at a local college. I remember sitting inside the classroom listening to the rain and hail hit the rooftop and feeling grateful I was inside. Little did I know my new husband, having heard about a tornado warning, was trying fruitlessly to locate and rescue his new wife who WAS NOT ANSWERING HER CELL PHONE! Because it was in the car where it belonged.

That experience taught me two lessons:

1) My new husband was a worrywart, and

2) I needed a bigger purse.

Technology got smaller and a whole lot smarter, but sometimes I wonder if it’s too smart. I have two driving-aged teenagers who disappear faster than the fumes from their exhaust pipes, but fortunately they never go anywhere without their phones. Their phone is the key to my knowledge.

Not only do my kids have to tell me where they’re going to be at every moment, as long as their phones have a battery charge (and they’d sooner lose their pulse than let their phones die), I can track them using Find My iPhone. If he’s struck by lightning or she happens to drop her phone in the toilet (I did this recently and was without my phone for three torturous days), I can call one of their friends—which is what my parents had to do when I was a teenager.

Back in the dark ages of the 1980s, once I left the house, my parents didn’t really know where I was. I’d tell them where I was going, but they had to trust me to tell them the truth. I was generally a good kid in high school because I had my parents trust and I didn’t want to lose it. I trust my kids, but they live under a microscope, and I’m not sure that’s better.

As the oldest will soon head to college, he’s begging us not to track him. And we won’t. But it sure will be hard. It’s like cutting the cord all over again.

Seriously, Mom, how did you do it?

photo credit: Hit Me Back via photopin (license)