One of the stories on last nights NBC news with that cutie Brian Williams was the new Nielson report on teen texting habits. It seems the youth of today are getting better and faster in their ability to text at warp speed. Good for them!!!! What an accomplishment. So last year the average number of texts a teen sent a month was 2280, this year it has risen to an average of 3339/month. Broken down by gender, girls text 4050/month, while boys are at 2539/month. Mind you this an average. Most parents tell me that every now and again they go to their carrier's website just to take a peek at their kids texting numbers and are shocked with the pages and pages and pages tallying up to 10,000-15,000 a month. That's a lot of "What's up?"
Texting for me and many adults I know is a total pain in the ass, can't see the letters, hate to misspell words, but get to frustrated to correct them, would rather speed dial a number and say a few words, to me the texting thing is just to much work. But clearly to the kids, writing is easier..go figure, wouldn't that be nice if it translated to being able write term papers at warp speed. I'm thinking in the year 2025 term papers will be 1 page long full of :'I thk hstry s fn. But here is the thing, growing up with texting as their first line of communication has made them become completely mindless about when and where they are texting. My college students, lovely, and sweet kids sitting in the front row of my classes texting away right in front of me. When I tap on their shoulder with a "really right in front of me" the student blushes and stammers and truly is unaware of what they are doing. That is the point. It has become mindless! Miss manner hasn't written her book on texting code of manners yet, and for some reason, parents aren't enforcing any either. so first, help your kid develop an awareness of how much they are texting. Make part of the responsibility of having this expensive phone to go with you onto the carrier website at least once a month, just to go over their texting use. I'm not saying to change anything, just have them develop an awareness. Your teen uses alot magical thinking when it comes to this, help dispel this magic. Its OK, its not like when you told them there is no Santa Claus or tooth fairy. They may roll their eyes, or give you attitude and think the whole thing is stupid. That's OK. You can say: " I get it, I know you think this is stupid, but I need you to see in print, how you are using your phone. If you were mindlessly eating bags and bags of chips and wondering why you were gaining weight I would hold up the empty bags of chips to show you. Its kind of the same thing."Remember you are paying for the phone, and that does give you some rights. This should be a non-negotiable. Its texting use now, but it could be a credit card in a few years. This is about teaching responsibility and mindfulness. I have seen parents be obsessively concerned with making sure their kids don''t eat junk food, or watch junk TV etc, but seem to let kids binge on their texting. And while you're at it make sure that your own texting/phone habits are in sync with what you are trying to teach your kids. If you are constantly on your Iphone, Droid, or Blackberry, answering work e-mails at the table, in front of the TV, in the car, at the restaurant, don't be surprised if your kids do it do. After all they all want to grow up to be just like their moms and dads!