Texting your Teenagers
For Christmas this year I bought my two step-daughters the new ogo device from AT&T/Cingular. The ogo is an always-on network device that allows a user to send SMS, email, and IM messages using the existing cellular network. But not voice phone calls.
Buying the devices was a solution to the problem of the continual request from the kids for cell phones. This started up a few years ago. I remember the younger of the two girls, at 5 years old saying "I want a REAL cell-o-phone!" When did having a cell phone become more interesting and important than having a car?
The advantage of the ogo is that it offers a single unlimited use flat fee. I was always worried about giving the kids cell phones as they might run up large phone bills over the course of the month. But at roughly $18 a month, they can send as many messages as they like.
One unexpected side effect -- I have talked more with my step-daughter in the last two days over IM than in the previous two weeks in person. Now part of this is the novelty of the new Christmas gift and the fact that she has few other people to IM. But I am beginning to wonder if having this new channel of communication, with its very different medium for exchange, will create a new connection between me and my children. Will they share things or ask things over IM that they wouldn't have asked in person? Will I hear about things happening in their lives, while they are happening, that I never would have heard about after the fact?
Sorry, gotta go. She's at a birthday party and sending me another message. It looks like a smiley face.