Teens Are Buying Burner Phones to Dupe Their Parents
Black markets for burners are common at high schools around the country
Back in the day, burner phones were for drug dealers, adulterers and assorted other varieties of ne’er-do-well.
Now they’re for teens who have lost cell-phone privileges at the hands of their meddling parents.
Burner phones have become a growing trend among teens, who are getting their hands on prepaid or out-of-service cell phones after parents take their phones away, the Wall Street Journal reported. Family & Tech columnist Julie Jargon chronicled a South Carolina family’s “four years of hell” trying to control their teen daughter’s cell-phone use, during which time they confiscated multiple burners.
The parents, Cindy and Patrick Van Emery, sought to control their daughter Jalyn’s phone use through restrictive methods that included taking her phone away every night at 8 p.m., drawing up “contracts” detailing when and how their daughter could use her phone, and even confiscating her friends’ phones at sleepovers. When their daughter broke the rules, her parents took her phone away.
Despite her parents’ increasingly restrictive efforts, however, Jalyn consistently managed to get her hands on alternate devices. “The burner phones kept showing up,” said the teen’s father.
As it turns out, Jalyn was far from alone.
“Kids can easily get their hands on a phone, through a friend, buying one online,” Diana Graber, co-founder of internet safety organization CyberWise, told the WSJ.
“In almost every high school across the country there is a kid who sells burner phones from their locker,” added Rich Wistocki, a former detective for high-tech crimes who now gives lectures about cybersecurity.
Since kids are going to get their hands on phones no matter what, Wistocki advises parents to maintain an open dialogue with their children and teens regarding technology. At the end of the day, threats to revoke phone privileges will only encourage teens to find workarounds like burner phones — and they will find them.
The devil may work hard, but tech-deprived teens work harder.
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