A Minor Issue with the NSA

We’ve come to the point where it has been more or less established that the NSA is collecting gobs of data on Verizon customers. And, if anyone has half a brain, we can most likely extrapolate that number to include to millions of customers that belong to the other telephone carriers. In short, our government is spying on us.

Over the past two weeks I’ve read so many viewpoints and opinions on the topic, that it’s nearly enough to make a girl’s head spin. However, there is one thing that I haven’t read or heard about – and it’s one of the first things that came to my mind when the story broke – and it’s the fact that much of that metadata belongs to minors.

That’s right, kids.

Now I teach middle school and I can tell you that cell phones are A Very Big Deal with middle school kids.* I can’t tell you how many conversations I heard between my students about phones – which ones were the best, what cases were the coolest, what apps they liked the best, and so forth. These kids could easily walk from a seventh grade classroom and into a Verizon Wireless store and get hired without too much effort (except they’d have to find a parent to drive them to work.) These kids know phones.

These kids are also obsessed with phones.

If a kid doesn’t have one, they are lower on the pecking order than the kids that do. And believe me, nearly every kid has one, even kids as young as ten or eleven years old. One of the first thing we ask a parent in a conference if we’re talking about plummeting grades is whether or not the kid has a phone. Nine times out of ten they do, and most likely that phone is one cause of their academic problems. (And no, I didn’t ask if they were Obamaphones, although I suspect many are.) A lot of parents can actually pinpoint the date the grades began to slip – it’s the date their little one got a phone. I’ve also seen the reverse where a low achiever suddenly turned on the jets. Often when I asked why, the response was “Mom took my phone away until my grades came up.” They are a powerful – powerful – bargaining chip to use with kids.

So kids use their phones – a lot. Probably more than quite a few adults. And that means that the government is collecting data on our kids. And I find that very, very disturbing.

*Now before you break into hysterical gales of laughter, you need to realize that yes, there are conservative public school teachers. Really. There are probably a lot more of them than most people realize. However, if they aren’t fortunate enough to live in a right-to-work state, they aren’t going to speak up too loudly for fear of losing their jobs. But trust me, we are out there.

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