Texting among children has increased dramatically and has become such an important part of children’s social lives that parents are concerned. Parents frequently know little about the content of the texts and with whom the child is texting. As a result many parents feel extraneous and that texting undermines their influence.
There are some positives to text messaging. Texting can contribute to a child’s feeling of belonging. Being able to text can help shy children become more outgoing. Texting is a concise and easy way to keep in contact with friends, as well as to check in with parents. In an emergency, texting can be extremely important.
Parental apprehension occurs when children become seemingly addicted to texting and less involved in face-to-face communication. Also, excessive texting may lead to poor spelling habits, inability to concentrate, and incomplete school work. Children report that once they send a text message, they expect to receive a response right away, and if they do not, they often become anxious. Others report that they feel abandoned and unable to give attention elsewhere when they are not “connected.” Texting can also create misunderstandings since the receiver cannot view the sender’s facial expressions, body language, or hear the tone of his or her voice.
What can parents do to balance the use of cell phones and texting with their goal of raising responsible, well-adjusted children?
Advancing technology can make it difficult to guide and raise children today, but with much listening, patience, love and a willingness to provide limits, children can grow into empathic, responsible, healthy adults.
1Sherry Turkle, Alone Together, Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other (New York: Basic Books, A Member of the Perseus Books Group, 2011), 267.
Related articles that may be of interest: Is Family Mealtime Important?; The ABC’s of Parenting; Ten Ways to Raise Children to USE Drugs; Adult Guide to Increasing Self-Worth in Children (.pdf);Effective Communication; Educator’s Guide to Active Listening.
For a resource that enhances parent-child communication and bonding see the Kelly Bear Feelings book.