Talking, texting and teens

Teaching Your Child


Each time I read about a teen who has sent a thousand text messages in a month, I wonder where the parents are.

How can a teen have time to send that many messages to friends and still do homework, communicate with family, participate on a sports team, take music lessons, read a good book and help with household chores?

Yes, I know I'm from the Dark Ages.

Recently my 11-year-old was observing some teens. "Mom, they don't talk to each other. They just send messages back and forth. Is that the way you and your friends communicated in high school?"

I looked from the teens back to her and a thought occurred to me. Children her age can't imagine life without cell phones.


"Well, honey, we didn't have cell phones when I was in high school. That technology wasn't available yet."

A look of disbelief crossed her face. "Really? How did you stay connected?"

What an interesting question. I never felt disconnected from friends. I guess we just didn't need to keep a minute-by-minute accounting of each others' lives.

I'm getting a little taste of what it's like to be around a texting teen.

My 15-year-old recently got a prepaid cell phone. At first, it was merely a way for him to stay connected with us while he was away on a trip. Then we decided to add more time so he could let us know when soccer practice ended early or if it was going to run late.

Little did we know how much texting would appeal to him. We'll be at the kitchen table in the evenings - me grading papers and him doing homework.

"Ding." A little tone sounds, indicating that someone has sent him a text.

"Who's texting you now?" I ask. He'll answer with the name of a friend who texted him five minutes ago.

"He's texting you again? Why?" I ask, not trying to be nosy. I'm just trying to understand.

"He was answering my text."

Oh. I guess this could go on indefinitely.

Because we don't want this phenomenon to get out of control at our house, we've established a rule: No texting or reading texts while studying. We don't mind him taking a break every half hour or so to read a text, but being interrupted every five minutes or so is not conducive to the studying environment.

I guess all this was on my mind the other night at bedtime, because I had a nightmare that involved texting.

In the nightmare, my son and I were kidnapped. It was so real, when I woke up I thought it actually happened. I was still trying to figure out how to get away from the assailants.

Over breakfast, I shared the details with my son.

"I was praying that you wouldn't be afraid and would keep your wits about you. I also prayed that you would figure out how to dial 911 without taking your phone out of your pocket."

He assured me that would be no problem.

Now I feel so much safer ... and it's all because of texting.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page.

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