Teenagers are using burner phones to circumvent parents who take their devices away — and to secretly post on social media without the adults at home knowing.
The Wall Street Journal reported the phones don’t always need a costly plan because some use the burners when connected to wi-fi to get around data charges.
“All the sudden she’d stop asking for her phone back and we’d be like, ‘That’s weird,'” Patrick Van Every said of his daughter, Jalyn, now 18.
The Journal reported burner phones is a term popularized by TV shows like “Breaking Bad” and “The Wire,” which featured drug dealers using cheap phones they’d later toss out or “burn” to avoid detection. For teens, it can be a prepaid cellphone or any out-of-service phone they can still get to work on Wi-Fi, the Journal noted.
“In almost every high school across the country there is a kid who sells burner phones from their locker,” Rich Wistocki, a retired detective for the high-tech crimes unit of the Naperville, Ill., police department, told the Journal.
The youngsters don’t only use the burners when their personal device is taken away. Some use them to post on social-media profiles their parents don’t know about—the so-called Finsta, or “fake Instagram,” account, Diana Graber, co-founder of internet safety organization CyberWise, told the Journal.
“The only thing that works is education, teaching them the upsides and downsides of tech, and helping them establish their own boundaries,” she added.
For the Van Every family, the fighting about phone use went on for years. “It got so exhausting,” Patrick Van Emery told the Journal. “It was four years of hell.”
The teenager told the Journal burner phones were easy to get, and that she always always had friends who could give her an old phone after someone upgraded to a new one. When the situation got so tense — and she wouldn’t abide by the house rules — she moved out for a year, only to head back home.
“Now that I look back, I realize how dumb all the fights were,” she told the Journal.
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