Posted: Mar 31, 2014 6:00 AM
When you were in school, did you have to babysit an egg to see what it was "really" like to have a baby? Well, things have come a long way since then — you can now get your teen's phone pregnant. Yes, really. Whether this will make a difference remains to be seen, however.
Photo credit: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/ Lightwavemedia / 360/ Getty Images

Talking about pregnancy prevention and sex isn't at the top of any parent's fun to-do list, but it's a necessity. So anything that makes the conversation easier is an excellent idea, in my opinion. Now, you can use your teen's cell phone to your advantage as you help it get knocked up for 12 hours, annoying the heck out of your kid and hopefully giving him a taste of what it's like to have an infant to care for.

Cell phone pregnancy has a campaign starting this week (running March 25 to June 12) that will allow you to send a "Pregnancy Text" to your teen's phone to give them a 12-hour baby experience. The goal? To open up a line of communication that isn't always so easy for moms to talk about with their kids as they move through the teen years and into relationships that call for smart decision making.

Tools to teach kids change with the times, for sure. Using modern technology — technology that doesn't leave the reach of many American teens — is a smart move. Instead of assigning an egg that doesn't require much care (except trying to keep it from getting broken), educators are moving toward baby dolls, and in some cases, expensive electronic babies that not only wail realistically, but also keep track of how they are being cared for with a fancy report that can be generated by the teacher. Using your child's cell phone, however, is certainly less expensive and can be as effective as a short-term "real" baby.

This can work if…

Keep in mind, though, that as with any tool, the Pregnancy Text can work, or work better, if a teen's parents are willing to have an open and honest discussion about sex, birth control and teenage pregnancy. Signing up to impregnate your teen's phone — but not using it as a jumping-off point for a real discussion — will likely serve to be nothing but an annoyance to your teen and may even cause some resentment to build up.

You can look to others to help educate your kids about serious, important topics, but these ideas must be reinforced at home.

In other words, this isn't an easy out. You can look to others to help educate your kids about serious, important topics, but these ideas must be reinforced at home. However, this sort of activity can be ideal because the baby is animated and funny, and it can be a real ice breaker, especially if you're anxious about the topic yourself. There's no reason you have to approach "the talk" with your kiddo with a serious angle… if humor works, then use it.

I think this idea is novel and cute, and is a great way to get teens thinking by using the device they hold most dear. It can also certainly give them a dose of virtual reality, particularly if it interrupts their sleep. But make sure that you don't waste the opportunity to have a frank discussion about sex, safety, consent and pregnancy. Parental involvement doesn't guarantee that children will always make the best choices, of course, but giving your children the support and information they need to grow and thrive is one of the best gifts you can give them.

More on parenting teens

Best birth control methods
How to talk to your teen about safe sex
Apps to restrict teen cell phone use