I've often thought, when looking at teenagers, that I won't want mine to be endlessly texting. Not at family parties, at the dinner table, or Christmas Day. But thanks to a new report, it seems I might have a battle on my hands.
According to a recent article in the New York Times, teenagers text a lot.
Apparently they send an average of 80 texts a day. Eighty! The normal teen in America sends an average 2,272 texts a month, according to the Nielson company and I'm sure their UK counterparts aren't much different.
Experts are worried about how this affects children, although it's not known yet what the long term repercussions will be.
"You hear that these kids are responding to texts late at night. That's going to cause sleep issues in an age group that's already plagued with sleep issues," paediatrician Dr Martin Joffe told the New York Times.
Apart from the physical effects, including even the impact on teenagers' thumbs, there are worries about how texting alters the relationship between children and their parents, although some adults may prefer to be in almost constant contact with their child.
The whole point of adolescence, however, is for children to grow away from their parents, to question values they've been brought up with and to eventually become independent adults.
But constant texting between teenagers and their parents puts this process in jeopardy according to psychologist and teen texting expert Sherry Turkle.
"Among the jobs of adolescence are to separate from your parents, and to find the peace and quiet to become the person you decide you want to be," Turkle told the New York Times.
"Texting hits directly at both those jobs... if technology makes something like staying in touch very, very easy, that's harder to do; now you have adolescents who are texting their mothers 15 times a day, asking things like, 'Should I get the red shoes or the blue shoes?'"
Although modern technology makes it hard to switch off, after all who can resist answering their mobile or checking their email, there are things you can do if you think your teen's texting is becoming a problem.
- Set boundaries -- no texting in class, during dinner or after bedtime.
- No texting while driving.
- Remind them that others may read their texts, not just the person they sent it to.
- Lead by example -- set limits on your use of your mobile too.
- Keep an eye on your child's mobile bill or how much they're spending on pay as you go. If it's too much initiate some consequences.
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