Going Mad: Calling All Mothers Of Texters!

Posted October 14, 2010 by

I don’t know about you all out there, but I have major issues with cell phone use. To be more exact, I have issues with texting. I find myself saying, “I don’t know what it is about it that drives me so nuts,” but I actually think I do. And the more I think about it, the more I really feel as parents we need to set healthy limits.

Anything that we haven’t set limits to on the onset of something, or at an early age — is going to be more difficult to do now. But that doesn’t mean we can’t or we shouldn’t.

Technology, while it’s a great thing in many ways, can also be a huge distraction, not to mention addiction even sometimes. The one word that I came up with when I kept asking myself “What is bugging me so bad?” is this: STIMULATION.

These Gen Y and Millenial kids are beyond overstimulated if you ask me. From video games, to hand held games, to cell phones, TV to computers and laptops. And that’s just technology. I didn’t mention the stimulation just from a long day at school or activities and in some kids’ case, jobs.

I’ll ask my daughter, “Now who are you texting?” BTW, I wonder when that word will be in the Dictionary, HA.

The thing is is I ask her, “Why would you want to be constantly connected to someone? Why would you want to answer someone who texts you continually?”

Her answer surprised me. “I really don’t like to text!” She told me she’d much rather talk on the phone.

Well, remember when we were teenagers? What did we do in our spare time? Talked on the phone with our friends. So texting is really no different, that is just what they do now instead. But back in the day, we didn’t have call waiting or voicemail and we had other kids in our family who also needed the phone, so we didn’t talk as much as the texting that goes on. I mean, I really feel it is a constant thing. I personally would not want to be bound to have to answer to someone the moment they text me! No thank you!

When my daughter got her cell phone last summer, I had boundaries set for it right away. And overall she’s pretty good about it, but I think I need to refine them myself.  I’ll list the ones here that I have been using with her for the last year and then some new ones that I need to implement. Maybe this isn’t an issue for you at the moment but if it ever is, I hope this helps a little:

  • No texting during dinner hours. This could be while helping with dinner, and during and right after during clean up.
  • No phone (texting) during Homework. I’ve been to lenient with this, but it is a huge distraction I’ve discovered, and she’s admitted.
  • No phone while out to dinner or at family/friend gatherings. It’s absolutely rude if we did it as adults and it’s unacceptable for your teenager to sit and do it also.
  • No texting or limited texting when we are “catching up.” There have been plenty of times where I’m trying to catch up with my daughter, like right when I pick her up from school, or at the grocery store or whatever, and she’s like, “What, huh?” Ah, no dice girl, you’re talking with me now! Two convos at once has never worked. It isn’t fair to the person who is right in front of you; it’s disrespectful. Just because our children try to do this, doesn’t mean we should allow it.
  • Charge Cell phone in Kitchen or wherever the rest of the family has set up a “charging station.” That way, we’ll know when they turn the lights out, their brains are going out too! Plus, it’s just radiation that we don’t want in their rooms anyway!
  • No cell phone at home after or 9pm. This last one is a possibility. If someone needs to reach your child, they can call the house phone. This time limit could vary depending on the child.

I also think it’s important to talk about why being over stimulated isn’t a good thing. Walk through these boundaries with your child and tell him or her why it’s a good idea to have these limits.

I tell my daughter that it’s important and vital for her soul and mind to rest. She shouldn’t constantly have something going on. Give your kids ideas of what they could do in some down time. I tell my daughter to reflect in her room, or go for a walk, or pray. Sure, your kids aren’t going to be great at this everyday, but even having these limits on the cell phone will help calm the brain a bit.  And whether they are “resting” their minds or not, it’s still a benefit to not be bound to their phone.

I understand as parents we have to change with the times, and accept that this is “What the kids are doing” to a point. But I also believe that we don’t have to conform to the patterns of this world, and that our kids will do the same stuff as everyone else because “That’s just how it is.” I don’t accept that.

If you need ideas on what the benefits are specifically, or you disagree or have any comments or questions, I’d love to know.

Peace–

And good luck on the texting journey, I know I need it, as I’ve been very close

to throwing her phone OUT THE WINDOW!

About

Gina Norma grew up in St.Paul MN, and enjoys art, reading, traveling, thrift shopping, picnics, volunteering and spending time with her 17-year-old. One day she hopes to go to Italy, attend college, and solve world hunger. Gina says, “To me, parenting is all about building relationships with our kids and walking along side them — not trying to control them or use shame.” You can read Gina’s blog at www.walkwithyourteen.blogspot.com.

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  1. montessorimom (Edit) Report

    It’s an interesting commentary on our society that the default here seems to be full-time access.
    If it’s a privilege what about treating it as such: setting times when they can use their cell phone/text rather than when they can’t?
    We can’t control when others call their phone, but you can control when they may have it and answer it…

    Reply
  2. libby (Edit) Report

    I am with all of you on the texting bit as well as the cell phone addiction. My 16 year old cannot go 3 minutes without touching his phone.
    It is either by his side, in his hand, by his ear, or in the shower with him. I had to stop that due to the moisture. He even talks on the phone while sitting on the toilet. We had to cut the texting because him alone cost us $220 on our cell phone bill just for texting.

    My 12 year old cannot even put his phone where it is supposed to be. He falls asleep with it in his pocket.

    Reply
  3. Tami (Edit) Report

    The best thing that I ever invested in was parent controls for each of my childrens phones through our wireless carrier. I can set the limitations, block numbers, etc. from my laptop. (No more having to confiscate their phones) I can change it anytime…which happens when children of different ages have different limits and at times when they’re grounded. I can set it up that the only incoming or outgoing calls or messages are parents only. They have 30 minutes in the morning, 2 hours after dinner and homework. Their phones have GPS, for safety reasons and to make sure they are where they say they are. I’m also investing in a program where I can monitor the content of their texts re: ‘sexting’. I have great kids, but, we’ve bumped into some issues along the way and I can tell you from those experiences that safe is much better than sorry…because sorry can break your heart.

    Reply
  4. Joseph T. (Edit) Report

    Most of the comments are wonderful and useful and we had already applied them. We sat down with our daughter before her junior year in HS and explained that she would have to start paying for her texts at the begining of the next phone billing period. With over 3000 texts back and forth, accounting for 25 hours of texting in a twenty- two day billing period, we calculted that she was texting durring school (prohibited), at lunch, after school and durring homework periods. Before we purchased the unlimited family text plan she would complete all of her homework by 9 or 10 pm, depending on assignments given. Once we switched to the FTP, hersleep time went from 8-9 hours to 5-6.5 hours. She would make all kinds of excuses; ‘too much homework, tired, etc’. Once we switched back to the limited text plan and informed her she would have to pay 25 cents per text over her limit of 250, the excessive texting stopped and her GPA rose to where it needed to be based on her abilities. Yes, we were monsters and we ruined her social life (her comments) but she is now in college and doing fine.

    Reply
  5. Gina Norma (Edit) Report

    Wow thank you everyone for your insightful responses. One of my favorite parts about being a Writer is hearing from my readers! I really appreciate all of the feedback, and thanks again for taking the time to read!

    BTW Teresa, I love your idea about being late/losing cell phone, you are right, they do not want to be without their phone! It’s a good way to keep them on time.

    Reply
  6. TERESA (Edit) Report

    Having their cell phone is EVERYTHING!!! If taken away you would think they would rather have their arm cut off. With this in mind, it makes setting a curfew and following it easy. In our house, for every minute your late, you lose your cell phone for a day. (5 minutes = 5 days) My 17-year old has only been late twice in 1 1/2 years. This is how important the almighty phone/texting is to them. We as parents have to accept the technology but also use it to our advantage.

    Reply
  7. Elaine (Edit) Report

    We have set rules that we stick with due to numerous issues with the cell phone and facebook. The cell phone for my 14 year old is a privledge, one that she should earn as far as we are concerned. The cell phone is off limits during the school week as both my husband and myself feel that the minute the phone comes into play, the attitude shifts…i.e.short attention span, quick, “yes” answers to everything asked, and drama filled nights. So…on Thursday…if the week has gone well, as a privledge, the phone is given so that she can connect with friends. When we first began this two years ago, she was very angry and couldn’t understand how she would keep in touch with her friends. The land line…what else…was our answer. She created a list of numbers from her contacts in her cell phone that she usues regularly throughout the week. Awkward at first she learned that the land line actually worked. Funny how they manage to adjust when they have to. Strange to actually hear the land line ring and her having actual conversations instead of a phone vibrating or playing the same ring tone over and over again. I will openly admit that the phone is the first thing that is pulled when there is a problem. It is not pulled indefinitely, but with a time limit so that she can prove that she deserves it. Seems to me that we are all going through the same issues as I hear parents talking constantly about the nonsense texts…sup…hey…

    We too hold strict rules about not allowing texting at family gatherings…functions…I find it extreemly rude that kids are allowed to do this as they become secluded and choose not to associate with the family or engage in conversation. Vacation was another issue. Phones were allowed in the car as long as we were traveling, but once we reached our destination, they belonged to me. As promised, every night, after the day of running and enjoying being on vacation, the phones were given to them for several hours to catch up. Worked for us as they had something to look forward to and vacation was really what it was meant to be…family time.

    As for the Facebook, we control the use as well. We have the password and will sign her on when she has asked and we have given permission. It has solved a lot of problems, believe me. She is not crazy about the idea, but it works for us. Funny..my husband changed her password to dadismad after having another run-in with the whole facebook drama…

    We are constantly figuring out things that will work, but really, the power is in our hands. We pay the bill, we provide the service, and they get the PRIVLEDGE if they deserve it. Simple.

    Reply
  8. Susie (Edit) Report

    My child’s false connection to others through texting and Face Book has concerned me. I have rules set up and I adhere to them. Currently, she has no access to her FB account due to drop in grades. She said she doesn’t miss that and I could close that account and she’d be fine with it. Her FB account will be closed. She just turned 15, needs to be focused on school success, not who hates who, who has posted another picture, distracted by a forwarded text, or a simple “hey” from someone she hasn’t heard from in months, etc.. 14,800 texts approximately per month. Cause for concern?
    I’ve taken her phone a few times, not to check on messages for I’ve allowed her that trust up to this point. I know how kids talk. I shuffle them around in my car, listen to their conversations, sit outside with them and have them in our home. I don’t need to check her text messages to understand that. My child also shares with me what others often say. I have to trust her and not check her messages to this point. She knows darned well, I could cease everything at any time and review it all though. Other parents do this to their kids and she knows it. I’ve taken her cell phone every time due to the loss of focus on what is important. At 15, her “job” and focus during the school year is school.
    Per my daughter, her friends all LOVE me. I believe our kids and even other kids want boundaries and to understand where they should focus. I honestly believe, they somewhat like it when they’re forced to use the land line. Her friends tell their parents, they have to call her and they talk for hours after school. Off of FB, in their rooms, giggling for hours, like we did. Building communication and relationships.
    Goals are needed, not for the end result of college, end of the school year or even end of the semester, but a goal to do well that week or that very day. I try to make my child understand that.
    I’ll allow my child to talk on the land line as often as she wants. THESE are real conversations and connections. Recently, she “liked” a boy, they texted constantly, but when forced to talk over the phone due to the loss of her cell phone, the relationship was done. That alone screamed lack of connections through texting.
    The spelling issue is another failure. Spell check on her phone keeps her from learning, let alone all of the abbreviations.

    Reply
  9. hirakawa (Edit) Report

    Someone asked “at what price?” I can give an example. I took an easy, stress-free (I thought) part-time job at a bakery, here in Tokyo. This baker (young guy) texts (spams) all employees about minute details all day long! I am sick of it and so is everyone else. The owner insists that he does it to keep everyone up to date since we don’t have meetings etc… I think he overtexted as a child (kids have had cell phones with texting for 10 years now) and uses it unconsciously for control, to ease loneliness, and it’s become a form of stalking cloaked as a business practice. This is what can happen so please teach your kids balance and appropriate usage now.

    Reply
  10. feleich66 (Edit) Report

    I agree with all of your rules. I believe texting for our children’s generation has gotten out of control. My fifteen year old step daughter can’t spell words that I learned in the sixth grade. I am really concerned about all of the abbreviations they are using. I recently checked her phone and couldn’t believe the way she was “talking” in her texts (i mean the f-bomb). I think that kids are able to talk anyway they want without parents finding out about it, and this worries me that they are going to wind up in situations that could have been avoided. I am really concerned that this type of obsession with cell phones is detrimental to our children. Please do more stories on this.

    Reply
  11. Rivkeleh (Edit) Report

    I recently required my 18-y-o to turn off his cell phone while we worked on college applications. No texting, no Facebook while we were working. That I have to tell him this drives me nuts. An hour later, when we were done, he discovered that his girlfriend had sent him over 30 text messages, called 15 times, and left 9 voicemails, increasingly frantic that he was not responding the INSTANT that she contacted him. This, after he’d called her and told her that he needed to work and wouldn’t be available for a little while. It worries me that this generation will have no concept of focusing on a single task and completing it, nor do they seem to have the ability to write in complete sentences and thoughts. I understand the cultural shift, but at what cost?

    Reply
  12. Jamie (Edit) Report

    My daughter has a cell phone and my newest rule is when we or she is visiting someone else or we have company, the phone is off limits. She has a habit of going to visit grandma and calling everyone she knows (or texting) while she is supposed to be visiting. We had to put a stop to that one.

    Reply
  13. Nick (Edit) Report

    You make some very good points and many of the rules you have laid out are enforced at our house too. Texting during dinner or social outing is probably one of my biggest pet peeves. I know a lot of parents encourage texting because its a cheaper alternative to allotting additional minutes to their kids cell phones. I have mixed feelings about this, but i’m also not one that encourages 5 year olds to walk around with a cell phone.

    I personally don’t find it necessary for a kid under the age of say 14-15 to have a cell phone. Land lines exist within our house and their friends house. Kids shouldn’t be out and about without parents knowing where they should be. Yes it would be nice to have the option to instantly contact your child or vice versa but 95% of the time the kids are going to use it to chat with their friends…

    Reply

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