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But that was 1989, when thousands of similar numbers flooded the market and teens were starting to lose interest. Around the same time, party lines hooked up to computer modems and people could type to each other as well as talk.The technology’s popularity allowed a brief resurgence.“If there was no phone, I wouldn’t be living right now. There’s a lot of fantasy involved.”Fantasy is right.In my town, there’s nothing to do.”Teens called in when they were bored, lonely, or simply wanted to experiment.“Hi, this is Kelly from North Attleborough.”“Like, how old are you? Some teens used the service to talk about sex, and later when moderators were added, used veiled language.Then parents saw the bills — their kids had charged hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars worth of calls in the space of weeks.“I wanted to kill her,” said Chicago parent Sharon Croll.“And then my next reaction was, ‘No, my husband’s going to kill her.’” Croll’s 15-year-old daughter racked up 0 in one month talking on party lines.“It was very beautiful,” said a party line owner, “and very profitable.”But by then, kids were bored and onto the next big thing.In two recent blogs, Mc Afee Labs described Japanese and Korean Android apps on Google Play that steal a mobile device’s phone number.
These two apps have been downloaded between 10,000 and 50,000 times each.Teens learned they could dial a simple phone number and charge any rates directly to their parents’ phone bill.Marketers knew it, and advertised party lines during after school television programs and in teen magazines.Think of it like a precursor to the internet chat room.Around the country, kids dialed numbers like 550-TEEN for access to party lines, otherwise known as group bridging services.
One Chicago reverend compared party lines to crack, PCP, television, and VCRs.