Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Turning off Texting

I’m beginning to see my husband’s perspective on teens and texting. After an episode of he said /she said that apparently went on until 4:00am this morning involving my two oldest teens and various friends, I have to feel that texting just creates social barriers.

When matters of the heart can be dealt with by the clicking of buttons, something has to change. When tone is indiscernible and things can be said that would never be said face to face, things have to change.

I honestly see the advantages of texting. In fact, I enjoy and use it quite a bit myself. Quick texts about a person’s day or their whereabouts are a good thing. This is much easier than entering into a lengthy conversation when a few words can do the trick.

However, I’m just not sure that youth of today understand when it’s time to step away from the message box and actually dial that person’s number. They don't verbally engage one another on a personal level and make sure that what is being communicated is being said understanding there is another human receiving the message.

My hubby has been rallying for the removal of texting from our teens' plans for quite a while. The fact that they’ve exceeded 20,000 texts a month should have convinced me, but the brouhaha that ensued this morning all over a text battle last night has opened my eyes.

Now we have to decide, do we -

1. Go cold turkey and turn texting off completely
2. Set time limits on when texting is an option – like 8am to 10pm
3. Realize we can do nothing because these are young “adults”
4. Confiscate phones at night

It’s time to get serious and make a decision. One that will inevitably lead to another brouhaha as these privileges are in danger of being revoked.

How do you manage texting in your household?


  1. Some may call me terrible, but we don't have cell phones for our reason is we live in a dead zone and most cell phones don't work out here. But, I agree with your reasoning. It's hard to get our teens to realize that certain things are a privilege. If Dad and Mom are paying for it then Dad and Mom have control over the final decisions.
    Good luck...

    This would be a great topic of discussion on my voiceBoks group 'Parenting Teens and Adults'. If you decide to join let me know and we'll put it up for discussion with some awesome moms who are in similar situations...

    New Follower from voiceBoks!
    Thanks, Becky Jane

  2. Thank you for sharing all of this and allowing your family's challenges to open a door for public discussion. I agree with all you have so clearly shared regarding the inherent struggles with this newer form of communication. I just got a smartphone and I am sure it will be one of the most underutilized of its type within the continental US, of the world for that matter. Primarily because I am a decided tech minimalist (as in seeking to keep my usage low and manageable) and I have the age and maturity to recognize the depth requirements of true communication. Your assessment of the younger generation is spot on.

    Regarding your 4 options.
    Number three is out for m
    Number one might be a requirement at some point, but if so make sure it's long enough to truly be effective.
    Number four I'm all in for.
    And number two is a very wise option, but I would impose more comprehensive limits, either shorter hours and/or number of texts. Way less.

    Good on you for your thoughtfulness in this matter.

  3. When we first gave out the phones, we set up a number of rules. However, we didn't enforce them. A texting situation that got out of control forced our son to have a one month loss of his phone. After that month we sat down with both kids and went over a written contract that they were required to sign before receiving their phones back. We pointed out that we pay the bills and therefore the phones are ours and therefore must follow our rules. (We did discuss the rules and made some adjustments with their input) A few rules we included were: no passwords or locks on the phones (and they may not delete any text messages), phone must be on the kitchen counter each night and texting/phone hours are 9 am - 8 pm. Any broken rule is subject to us removing their phones. Our monthly texting numbers have seriously dropped. I think the one month stop helped him get out of the habit and 8 months later he rarely has more than 300 texts per month.

  4. Lorus - great suggestions. We've really considered doing something similar. The problem is that they are 18 and 20. Part of me says - they are adults. The other part says that I pay for the phone bill and they should be moderate.

  5. @Shyla, It may end up number two. They work the late shift at the pizza place, so I'd like them to be able to keep me posted on their ETA status. However, once they are in for the night, no reason to spend (waste) time texting. Sleep is more important. School hours is another time I'd like to turn them off - but my oldest son will be across town for school. I guess he can call if he needs anything.

  6. I had lost faith in the new world of social media until last weekend when I attended a conference in Portland, OR with 500 people from 20-75, and realized how the young people were networking and trying to set up businesses together via Twitter etc. In a way, they are even more savvy at staying in touch than the older generations. I have changed my attitude as it is the way of future generations to do team work. It also allows for a new global perspective. As far as limits with younger children at home, I can see that when it interferes with homework and sleep time.

  7. Sonia - Thank you for the perspective. I agree that there are advantages to media that we didn't have growing up. I teach a technical writing course that incoporate social media, blogging, voice boards, etc. There are ways to use these tools effectively. I worry, however, that the ability to think critically and retain information is being lost as our students/children are living in a world of constant distraction and input. We're seeing more breadth, but lacking in depth. Just one perspective. I'm a techno-geek myself as is my husband, we love technology, but also strive to understand its limitations.

  8. I've often wondered about these same issues with my 15 year old son. Thankfully we're not at a point where it's a problem, but I know the potential is there. Stopping by your blog from a voiceBoks email :)

  9. My daughter will be 17 next month. So taking her phone at night would mean to her a social disaster!
    However, I limit some.
    No texting at the dinner table.
    None while we are having family time or a day out.
    None while showering! (now come on) She's done this!
    Not at school or church!
    Next will be driving, I stress this because it's just as bad as drinking and driving!
    Sometimes it's just plain rude to text.
    That's my opinion. I tell her to mind where she's at.
    So hopefully, praying, she takes moms advice.

  10. Both our kids have phones because we do not have a land line and I have to admit, when they are not at home its a great little peace of mind that they are just a call/text away. In saying that, the phones stay on my desk at night and the leash for the use of the phones is pretty short because I don't believe they are something the kids need on them 24/7. We also have any and all data use turned off on their phones and they have strict rules about texting and what happens if they go over... my son learned the hard way when he lost the phone for a year and had to pay the bill.

    I really believe it starts with setting boundaries with kids and sticking to them.

  11. Lori - we have similar rules - dinner, driving, etc. Driving especially - I'll turn off her phone if she does it! I just know that there'd be a lot more time for studies and life and less drama if I took texting away. Hmmm... Old fashioned?

    Kisma - I envy your boundaries - we should have started there.

  12. In my household, I have only general limits on texting/phone use. Such as, not at the dinner table, not while I'm talking to you, but I really haven't enforced anything more. We have had a few all night texting dramas with my oldest (20 & a U.S. Marine now), but they weren't frequent.

    I don't know that getting rid of texting altogether would be a good idea. I enjoy having that ability to communicate with my kids and with others - it's just so handy and I think it is here to stay. I would recommend limiting texting at night if you did anything, perhaps by keeping the phones in a central location. But, for my family, I just try and recognize they are adults (or close, my next oldest is 17). Now, if my 13 year old was texting all night, I would take the phone in a heartbeat.

    The other point you bring up is a good one that young folks don't know when to pick up the phone and have a real conversation. My oldest and his girlfriend would fight and break up via text message. He was in California in marine training receiving text messages that she's leaving him. I was so shocked that she couldn't even give him the decency of a phone call!

    Following you now from VoiceBoks!


Thank you for commenting - I love to hear your thoughts!