Parent-Child Cell Phone Debate Continues

AMES, Iowa – Parents can exert a measure of control over their child’s mobile phone use by limiting use, checking its contents and using it to monitor the whereabouts of their offspring. However, with a few exceptions, these activities by parents do not seem to impact patterns of cell phone use by teens, according to Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Family Life Program Specialist Donna Donald.

In April 2010, Pew Research Center published a summary of findings on teens, cell phones and texting. According to the survey, some 75 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds now own cell phones. Among all teens, texting has overtaken every other form of interaction with friends. This interaction has led to problems in the home.

“Cell phones have become so common,” said Donald. “Teens are at a totally different place with phone use than their parents and they don’t see anything inappropriate or unmannerly by being on the phone all the time.”

Extension Family Life Program Specialist Lori Hayungs offers a suggestion for parents when dealing with teens and cell phones.

“As teens try to become more independent, the phone can be a huge power play item for both parents and teens,” she said. “It’s important to not make the phone the issue because often it’s more of a ‘symptom’ of whatever the real issue is.”

ISU Extension and Outreach offers many resources for families. Visit the website,, or contact any county office.