Cell Phones—the Latest Teen Accessory

You could safely say we live in a cellular world. When was the last time you were in public and didn't hear a ring tone? Like most trends, tweens and teens are not only on board, but leading the way. How could they resist? Bright colors, customizable face plates, games, text messaging. Cell phones are here to stay. As a volunteer working with tweens and teens, it's good to visit their "mobile" world.

Five things you need to know about teens and cell phones:

1. Among tweens and teens, cell phone use is widespread. Seventy-five percent of 15- to 17-year-olds and 40 percent of 12- to 14- year-olds carry cell phones, according to a NOP World Technology Kids' Study.

2. Cell phones are for more than just talking. The typical cell phone can:

3. Communicating by cell phone has become an important means of socializing for teens. Face-to-face conversation is passé to kids. Now it's all about text messaging, even if you're only sitting a few seats away from the person. For parents, cell phones serve as a convenient way to monitor or check in with their kids.

4. Cell phones are status symbols. Carrying a mobile phone lets others know you're mature and "cool." Much like having the "right" label on your jeans, owning a choice cell phone can elevate a teen's popularity.

5. Cell phones express personality. Cell phone users can choose lots of options like color, size, and most importantly, ring tones. Using the standard ring just doesn't cut it for most kids. Cell phone providers publish catalogs with hundreds of tones to choose from. Tweens and teens gladly hand over their money to pay for these downloads.

In a troop or group setting, meet the challenge by creating an atmosphere that acknowledges cell-phone use and encourages etiquette.

Open up the dialogue or facilitate the following:

Have the girls create group rules for cell-phone use. Rules may include keeping cell phones on silent or vibrate mode. Or, if someone has to answer, she can excuse herself and go in another room.

If all the girls in the group have cell phones, decide as a group how cell phone use fits into group communication. Suggest choosing a common ring tone for the group. (Most cell phones let you set specific ringers to different phone numbers.) Girls can decide to text message each other as a reminder about meetings and events.