Ring Ring Pick Up the Phone – Cell Phones and Teens – The Sequel

copyright Denis Kuvaev
copyright Denis Kuvaev

Remember this post? Remember when I posted this week about the $400 strange data charge on our Rogers bill? Remember how thrilled I was when I realized it was my darling daughter’s phone which doesn’t even have data that rang up a huge data bill? Yes, I was livid and I confiscated the phone and the iPad. And I was peeved at Rogers, because I told them when I hooked said phone up that it was for calling. We had talk and text only. And yet a $400 data bill arrived. How does that happen? I queried how this happened and in fact was told that if she had a plan with data on the phone we would have received a message she was over on her data. Ironic, no? If she had a data plan then someone would have received a message that would have let us stop the extra fees. But she had a plain jane package with talk and text and NO DATA, so….essentially it’s like saying we thought we’d bait your kid with data and extra fees (not what they said but that’s what I heard.) This all makes ZERO sense in my books.

I was thinking I would let this one go as a big old lesson to her. I let her sweat it out for a few days and her phone is still locked in my office. I was working hard on teaching her a lesson. I had her working hard also because she needed to pay off that dramatic little bill which I am sure was mostly spent on Youtube watching videos via Animal Planet. She’s of the age where Youtube is like the only thing in her universe that makes sense. Youtube Youtube Youtube. All the time.

But the thing is here’s her story: “Sometimes things pop up on the screen and I just press X to try and make them go away.” So, maybe she didn’t even really intend to add data packs. Maybe she didn’t even read it. Maybe she did. t will never really know. Either way she made a big new cell phone user mistake. I had her working in my office and in the kitchen and helping with a few office tasks here to try and pay for some of the damage. I was contemplating letting my beef with Rogers go and I was committed to making her pay. Several of you thought that made sense and there were a lot of close friends who told me I was nuts to let her pay that much back.

Many of you also suggested I go back to Rogers and not leave this one idle. So I did and they made it right by erasing the $400 fee and turning data off of her phone for now. But I have learned that smartphones don’t ever really turn data off. They are built for data so you can’t restrict it. Not really 100 %. Any kid with fingers can figure out how to access the settings and flip that little button back on. So the irony is – her cell phone will likely need a data add on too so that I can get the message when she goes over. It’s easy to see how some people become conspiracy theorists. It’s like Rogers knew what they were doing all along because now I need to change her plan and make it bigger or dump the phone entirely. But dumping the phone entirely is also kind of punishing me. She uses it to call me when she has a panic attack at school and I try to calm her down and remind her what to do. She uses it to tell me the bus is late or to check in if she’s at a friend’s house. She also used it when she and her dad were in a car accident. So…we need the phone. I need her to be able to contact me as necessary.

In the end Rogers did agree that since I have been a customer since 1989, perhaps I was worthy of keeping happy. So they did the right thing and I am no longer out $400. (neither is she.)

So what’s the lesson here? Well she lost her gadgets for a week. I sometimes feel like the jailer of gadgets around here. It is the harshest punishment around and the only one that works. Take the phone and iPad away and they can usually work hard enough to correct behaviour in order to get the gadgets back. Cell phones and teens go together like PB and J.

I was reminded of some big lessons here too. Kids need a heck of a lot of handling and guidance when negotiating digital territory. I knew this, but sometimes you get busy and let things go…so now I am yet again the Mom who is creeping people’s Facebook pages and checking what my daughter posts and what her friends post. Let me just add that I am very glad my daughter doesn’t really care about Facebook because there are some classmates who are making a huge mess of their digital footprint and it’s scary. One of her classmates has nothing but swear words and rants on her Facebook page. That bodes well for future success in the job market??!! NOT. I am also set up with a Rogers app that will help me to see her usage right from my phone. It’s not fun being a Mom spying on her digital life, but it’s crucial to keep her safe. I was doubly reminded of that again this week.

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.