Seventy-five billion texts are sent every month, according to the Nielson company. And no, your teen isn’t sending or receiving the majority of those texts — even if it may seem like it sometimes! But, teens 13 to 17 years old are the biggest texters. And, according to the Pew Research Center, one in three teens sends more than 100 text messages a day! You’ve got to basically force them to talk to you, so how much could they possibly have to say over a text!? If you can’t remember the last time you had a conversation with your teen without him or her constantly checking the cell, then you need to know some of the dangers of texting and rules to set to stop your teen from texting too much.
Dangers of Too Much Texting
Is your kid getting enough sleep at night? If they’re up sending and receiving texts at night when they should be sleeping, then the answer is no. If your kid has shown signs of being more tired than usual, you need to find out if it’s really because they’re “overloaded with school” or is it really due to late-night texting? Needless to say, loss of sleep and tiredness can cause them to do badly in school. If they’re too focused on texting 24/7, how could they possibly have time to focus on what they should be doing — studying, getting good grades and getting a full-ride to Harvard (every parent’s dream)!
Underdeveloped Communication Skills
Educators and parents are concerned that too much texting could lead to underdeveloped communication skills, including social, language, and reading and writing skills. Texting is increasingly replacing face to face communication for teens, or even phone conversations, which will only hurt them in the end. Teens are becoming accustomed to shorthand abbreviations and indirect communication instead of proper sentences and direct communication, possibly affecting their future capabilities in the professional world and beyond.
Texting While Driving
I know you may think your teen is too smart to text and drive, but the reality is that over 60% of teens in the U.S. admit to “risky driving”, which includes the dangerous practice of texting while driving. And, we all know that cell phone use during driving has led to plenty of accidents. Your teen is a new and inexperienced driver and does not need the added temptation and distraction of having a cell phone within reach, just waiting to send and receive texts.
Rules You Should Set
All Attention On Me, Please
If your teen starts to whip out the cell phone while you’re in the middle of a conversation, you need to ask him to please put it away and say, “I need all attention on me, please.” No matter how talented your teen may be, simultaneously absorbing the complete details of an important conversation and texting is an impossible feat. Not to mention, it’s totally rude to not give your full attention to a person you are engaging with. If the cell phone is out of the way, you may even get to talk with your teen for prolonged periods of time (imagine that!) instead of the quick “How was your day?” and “Fine” exchange that normally occurs.
Keep Your Cell Out of Reach While Driving
You need to sit down with your teen and talk to her seriously about texting while driving. Don’t demand, but explain that you would prefer if she keeps her cell phone out of reach while she is driving. She should place it in her purse and behind her own seat so she won’t be tempted to text while driving. Any texts that are missed will just have to wait — it’s most likely not an emergency, and even if it is, she shouldn’t (God forbid) create another emergency by texting while driving!
Designate “Text Zones”
If you haven’t already set certain rules about where and when texts should be made, please do! Don’t go crazy, of course. But, you should set a rule that cell phones are not allowed at any family event, whether it be dinner or family movie night. The cell phones do not have to be glued to your teen’s hand. Additionally, you should “strongly urge” your teen to either turn his cell phone off or keep it on silent throughout the night so that his sleep is not disturbed by receiving late-night texts. It can wait until the morning! If your teen starts arguing with any of your rules, which they most likely will, try to explain your reasoning to him in a calm, rational manner. You are only looking for his best interest and do not want texting to negatively interfere with his life in any way. Plus, you are most likely the one who is paying for the cell phone and text plan, so “suggest” that you may one day decide to get rid of that unlimited texting option if it gets to be too much of a distraction.