Dennis the Menace wasn't such a bad kid. He just didn't have the right technology.
Had he only heard his mother calling him from the front porch, he probably wouldn't have hounded Mr. Wilson. Nor would he have climbed into the neighbor's cellar to look for hidden treasure, and he never would have climbed to the top of the tallest tree to find the baby birds. Nope, Dennis was just the product of a generation that did not have the kind of technology we have today.Just imagine Dennis with a pager or cellular phone. Had his mother needed, she could have dialed a number, entered a few digits and hopefully convinced him to leave Mr. Wilson and come home. Or if Mrs. Wilson wanted to give him a cookie she would have needed only give him a call on his handy cellular.
Face it, these days a teenager's life includes all kinds of new gadgets. A mother doesn't need to yell into the neighborhood for her children to come home, she only has to dial them up.
"It's been a good thing for me to have a pager because my parents trust me more. They can get a hold of me when I'm out," says Granger High senior Allen Thacker who enjoys his new-found freedom. The pager, a perfect device for professionals and executives, now also resides along with tennis shoes and math books. And where once racking up minutes on the cell phone was only an adult's job, now teenagers have the honor.
New generations are armed with high-tech gear, ready for the time when mom or dad needs them, or a friend wants to talk. Darci Rickenbach of Richfield High enjoys the use of her pager.
"It's good 'cause my friends can find me," says Rickenbach, who has used the beeper for over a year. Now when time is of the essence, the simple assistance of a pager creates a world of opportunity.
"I don't ever have to worry about missing a phone call anymore," said Rickenbach, who can simply give out her beeper number instead of waiting around for a friend to call.
Although pagers are great for some, other teens find a cell phone even more of an asset. North Sevier High senior Brandon Haws found that his cell phone saved him a lot of time and worry. "I have it when I need it," says Haws, noting the availability of a phone he can take almost anywhere.
Haws' feelings about having a phone are related to the concerns of a worried parent. "It's not a luxury when it could save your life."
While several students agreed with Haws' idea of connecting to society, Shaun Farnsworth says he has solved the pager vs. phone issue. "Pagers are better 'cause you can choose who you want to talk to," he said.
No matter the device, school boards all over the state don't feel as positive about the technology in schools. While communication among teenagers is changing, so are policy statements in classrooms. School boards and administrators hope banning the gadgets will end the distractions they can cause.
Several years back, pagers for teens was a joke, and a sparse few even dared carry them but now they are not only the "in" thing but a necessity of the busy times.
"Personally I've wanted a pager or cell phone for a long time," said Gary Cloward of Granger High, whose mother has refused to let him join the revolution because of worries that a pager might be one more thing keeping his mind off studying.