How do you feel about your teen’s texting habit?
My cousin’s son recently told me that his girlfriend broke up with him by text. He was devastated, but the two of them still haven’t talked face-to-face since he got the message two weeks ago. It makes me wonder, what are teens losing out on? I think hard conversations can teach us how to be empathetic, sensitive and diplomatic — you actually see what effect your words are having on the other person. To me, a text message is like shooting a dart out into the atmosphere, and never having to feel its sting.
My cousin also complained to me that her son is always texting away on his cell phone at night in his room, losing a lot of sleep and racking up phone bills.
But it’s not just emotions or finances we should be concerned about, it’s also physical safety — as you’ve probably heard by now, quite a few teen-agers have died texting while driving. (And many teens have ended up in emergency rooms for texting while doing other things, including cooking, riding bicycles, and even horse-back riding. )
On the plus side, one of my friends with teenagers in the house told me that texting can sometimes be a benefit. When she and her husband want to check in on their daughter, it’s a non-intrusive way to say “what’s going on” without calling attention to the fact that mom or dad is checking up on her.
How do you handle your texting teen? (Not to mention the phonebills!) Any tips for putting limits on their texting habit? And for those of you who think text messages have been a good thing for your kids, tell us why.
About Elisabeth Wilkins
Elisabeth Wilkins was the editor of Empowering Parents and the mother of an 10-year-old son. Her work has appeared in national and international publications, including Mothering, Motherhood (Singapore), Hausfrau, The Bad Mother Chronicles, and The Japan Times. Elisabeth holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine.