Teen Travel Network

Cell Phone Policy


Cell Phone Policy

TTN strives to create an environment that encourages students to unplug and forge connections with fellow students, program staff and the locations they are visiting. At TTN, we find that when travelers disconnect from constant use of their technology, they are better able to be present and fully integrate into their group travel experience.  Part of TTN’s mission is to guide teens towards becoming travelers, not simply tourists. Travelers are experiencing the world around them in real time and cell phones can inhibit that process.

Students are permitted to use cell phones, including pre-purchased data and talk plans, during specific staff-designated hours. We aim to dedicate “Cell phone time” in the mornings before breakfast or evenings before lights out. Cell phone time will be told to travelers daily. Parents should not expect to hear from students between 7h00- 20h00 local time of the program destination. If parents need to get hold of their student, they can contact the international staff directly.  Use of phones and electronic devices can be disruptive during meals, mentor groups, and workshops and may be collected by staff during these times.

Mobile phones can be brought on TTN trips and will remain in travelers’ possession at all times. Travelers are fully responsible for mobile phones and electronic devices. Mobile phones must remain powered off and stowed away during program activities, such as but not limited to:  guided tours, all meal times, cultural activities, mentor groups and group activities, unless otherwise specified by trip leaders. Headphones and earphones also cannot be used outside of designated cell phone time; headphones are specifically forbidden when riding public transit due to safety concerns. Designated cell phone time will vary per trip and the timing of this time will be designated by Program Staff but will typically be in the morning before breakfast and at night after dinner time (local time). Travelers may use mobile phones as a camera to take photos during the day but should not be texting, calling, gaming or using social media, etc. during program activities. Any phone in view that is causing constant distraction or affecting the group dynamic – the traveler will be given a verbal warning and their phone may be confiscated and securely held until the end of the day (+-20h00), at which point it can be collected by the traveler. Repeat offenders will be managed in line with our existing Code of Conduct (verbal warnings & confiscation, behavioral contract etc.).

Internet Access, Signal & Connectivity on TTN programs

Each country and program site come with their own unique advantages and challenges to internet access. In Home Bases where there is wifi, program staff  will provide students access to the wifi so that they can connect with their family during staff-designated cell phone time only. If a student doesn’t have a phone to connect, they may ask staff to use their phone to call home if they desire.

TTN cannot guarantee that all Home Bases will have consistent, high-speed internet. Travelers can expect to be connected to wifi once a week at least. In some locations, the internet connection may be particularly sporadic and one can expect the connectivity timeline to vary greatly. (i.e. students may have 2 days back-to-back where they can connect while in a city to start the program, and that may be all for a 2-week program). Wifi access capabilities will be shared for each program on the Travel Portal.

The WiFi that is made available, is for connecting with family and is not for streaming of any kind. Some program sites have capped total data available per session, and when students stream, the entire amount can be depleted in seconds by a few travelers. 

Travelers and families should not expect to be given time on a program to purchase SIM cards. TTN staff will encourage students to remain as disconnected from their phones as possible so as to encourage connection to the country in which they are visiting. 

Drones, Laptops and Misc. Electronics on TTN Programs 

Students on TTN programs will not be permitted to bring laptops, iPads/tablets, drones and other expensive electronics as they are not conducive to the travel experience on TTN programs. 

Cameras & Wearable Devices 

TTN recommends that students bring a small, point-and-shoot camera for ease of travel, which can be used throughout the program to take pictures. The use of point-and-shoot cameras during adventure and cultural activities will be up to the discretion of the program staff and may not be appropriate for ethical or other reasons depending on the activity. DSLRs and expensive photography equipment are allowed in place of a point-and-shoot camera; however, students will be responsible for the security of their equipment. Wearable devices will not be collected along with cell phones; however, as travelers it is best practice to keep a low profile, and therefore wearable devices are not recommended. TTN is not responsible for any damaged, lost or stolen electronic devices. 

TTN Blogs 

During the program, students on the program are expected to write a short blog with photos. We typically receive 2-3 blog posts per week from international program staff, though the frequency of program blog updates depends on location, access to the internet, excursions away from the Home Base, and other factors. All programs also send an update on the arrival of travelers in-country with a photo of the group. The objective of making these blogs available to families is to give family members back home brief insights into their traveler’s  experience on-program, and is not meant to be a catch-all for every activity that happens on-program.

Cyber Bullying 

TTN has adopted a strict ‘no tolerance’ policy for cyber bullying and/or using cell phones to cause distress among fellow students or local staff.

TTN Staff and Cell Phone Policy

As positive role models, we expect all our staff to exhibit the same behavior we wish to see from travelers on our programs. When in front of travelers, staff will limit their cell phone use to work-related purposes and ensure students know the difference between work use and personal use. Staff are expected to have their phones on them at all times to ensure they are able to gain and give support as needed to run their program, to remain accessible to both TTN and families as needed. 

Cell Phone Policy and Fellowships (Arts & Letters Fellows in Photography or Videography Tracks)

All Fellowship students will be held to the same standards of this policy. For Fellowship students, we strongly recommend they bring a point-and-shoot camera to supplement their Fellowship needs (in some cases, to capture a series of photos or video clips for their final Fellowship project), which will allow them to take their device to more locations/activities for photography than with a smartphone alone. 

Other Teen Travel Network Policies

Discover Teen Travel Network’s various program policies and statements of intent in our Program Policies Hub. Be sure to review each of these policies or statements before you participate in a TTN summer travel program.

Teen Travel Network

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