My friend's 15-year-old went off to school with a headache. All morning at work, she worried about him. Was he coming down with something? Did he need to come home? So she sent a text. 'R u ok?'
Well, she thought, he's probably in lessons. I'll try later. At lunchtime, she sent a second text. 'R u ok? Feeling better?'
Eventually, in the late afternoon, when her imagination had run wild and he was now lying in a hospital bed in a coma (the school having lost all their emergency contact numbers), she sent a third text. 'R U OK? ANSWER NOW.'
Minutes later, her phone vibrated. She caught her breath. His text read: 'Fine. Why?'
There are, of course, lots of reasons why teenagers don't answer texts. Quite often, he/she has gone off to school leaving the phone under the duvet/in a different bag/in the pocket of whichever coat was worn on Sunday night.
So while you're panicking about car accidents/violent attacks from random strangers/the plague, his mobile is stuck down the back of the sofa and your accumulated messages – like pizza flyers on the doormat – are just building up in a useless shiny heap.
On the other hand, phone and owner may have been together all day. In this case, you might feel you want to ask your teenager – when you finally meet up – why your increasingly frantic messages were ignored.
The answer might be:
1. Sorry, I had no battery.
2. Sorry, I had my phone turned off.
3. Sorry, I didn't have enough credit.
4. Sorry, it was at the bottom of my bag and I didn't hear it.
All these reasons make perfect sense.
But here's what I think. Based on purely unscientific research (i.e. I have two sons and one daughter), you're more likely to ignore a text from your mother if you're male.
Why? I don't know. Years of learning not to listen to her in case she asks you to wash up/tidy your room/not leave your shoes just inside the front door where everyone trips over them?
Secondly, I think teenagers sometimes don't answer texts from their parents because they don't think they need an answer. The information the text contains has been absorbed (Parent Is Worried).
But as this is an entirely normal state of affairs, it doesn't seem to require a response. I live in hope.
Student son is now on Twitter. I can tweet my anxiety instead.