The tribulations of telecommunication

My teen daughter has marked a key milestone in her young life. Among “coming of age” moments, it’s right up there with sweet 16, learning to drive, and being able to vote.

My teen daughter has marked a key milestone in her young life. Among “coming of age” moments, it’s right up there with sweet 16, learning to drive, and being able to vote.

She got a cellphone.

Big whup, you say?

Hey, when you’re almost 14, and going into “real” high school, having a phone is huge. Major. Momentous.

That’s not why I agreed to it, though. There had to be more justification for a personal phone than just the Grade 9 coolness factor.

I agonized over it. The advantages were clear. We could get hold of our daughter whenever necessary, without having to chase around for friends’ numbers. If she needed a ride, or a pick-up time had changed, she could let us know. And, if she was in a situation in which parental aid and extraction were required, she could call without having to ask someone for a phone.

And then there were the downsides…

Cost, of course, but that’s pretty minimal if the plan is limited.

The bigger objection was the danger of turning my kid into a version of the teen texting zombies – the kids who hang around, constantly looking at their phones, thumbing away obsessively. They can’t even put the devices in a pocket or purse for a moment. They have to hold them.

I think if they were forcibly separated from their phones, they might go into spasms, or enter a catatonic state.

It’s frightening.

And then there’s the extension of the whole social networking thing. We struggled mightily against Facebook. At one point, I would rather have had a nuclear radiation leak in my house than Facebook. But the concept eventually became part of my work life, and I succumbed to the great brain drain.

So, anyway, I initially thought a standard phone would suffice. After all, I just wanted to be able to call her, and vice versa. Just a simple flip-phone would be fine.

Teen response: Blank look through half-lowered eyelids.

She was envisioning a BlastedBerry.

OK, maybe I’d consider that. But no data plan.

Frantic wail: “But what’s the point of having a Blightberry if you don’t have Internet?”

Precisely.

The phone salesman was helpful. He could supply a free BonkBerry, and an inexpensive plan that just provided talking … and texting…

How about a plan with no texting?

“Daaaad!”

Limited texting then.

The salesman pointed out that kids will text her, regardless of the limit, and then we’d have to remortgage the house.

Who knew?

OK. This would have to be solved via my finely honed parenting skills, and carefully chosen diplomatic language that has brought us this far through early teenhood with great success.

“Abuse this phone, and it is so gone! Exceed your phone minutes, or start incessant texting, and you will get a little plastic walkie-talkie!”

She understands that sometimes, victories are measured in degrees.

So, after some further subtle negotiation, we exited with a DingleBerry, a limited phone plan, and an appreciative, pleased teen who, I noticed the other day as we were walking together through the mall, was holding her precious phone in her hand.

I broke into a cold sweat.

Mind you, yesterday at the office, I got a text.

“Hey dad, when r u gonna B home?”

It had a nice ring to it, so to speak.

Just Posted

Satwinder Bains of Abbotsford is the recipient of the 2021 aculty Service Excellence Award from University of the Fraser Valley. (UFV photo)
Satwinder Bains receives UFV Faculty Service Excellence Award

Bains has guided South Asian Studies Institute as director since 2006

The City of Abbotsford has prepared a draft Urban Forest Strategy that is now headed to public consulation.
Draft plan adopted for managing Abbotsford’s urban forests over next 25 years

Urban Forest Strategy now heads to public-consultation process

Country music star Chris Lane stops in Abbotsford next February. (Submitted)
Country music star Chris Lane coming to Abbotsford

Multi-platinum artist bringing ‘Fill Them Boots’ to Abbotsford Centre on Feb. 19, 2022

The Abbotsford International Airshow is back for 2021 with the ‘SkyDrive’ concept.
Abbotsford International Airshow returns for 2021 with ‘SkyDrive’

New format features a drive-in movie type experience, show set for Aug. 6 to 8

The intersection of Blueridge Drive and Blue Jay Street is one of three intersections in Abbotsford approved for traffic lights this year. (Google Street View)
Traffic signals approved at 3 Abbotsford intersections

Projects part of $1.45M in road upgrades around community

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says re-opening B.C.’s border to the U.S. ‘is not in our best interest’ right now. (B.C. Government photo)
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry (B.C. Government photo)
B.C. records 113 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 4 deaths

Vaccination of young people rising quickly, near 75 per cent

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read