The Trouble With Texting

My older kids have phones and text every day. It’s very handy. But we recently decided to limit my daughter’s texting because so many of her friends were having misunderstandings. Since she gave up texting, she has been happier and gained a lot of perspective.

I think texting stunts your communication growth. First of all, you can’t text back and forth about complex ideas so your conversations are limited. Texting is great for conveying basic information quickly, “Where should  I pick you up?” or “What time is the meeting?”Anything more complicated than that is worth talking about in person or picking up the phone for.

But texting is taking the place of not just in-person conversations but talking on the phone. Remember how much time you spent talking to your friends on the phone when you were growing up? And even that was considered a sorry substitute for talking to someone in real life. Parents used to nag us about that, but even on the phone you can pick up on tone of voice  and verbal cues that are completely absent from texting.

My daughter has started talking on the phone to her friends now and she is discovering the joy of that. You can talk about all kinds of things and there are fewer misunderstandings! It’s a better way to communicate.

She tells me that kids who are “going out” are just 12 year olds who text each other. How lame. My daughter is not allowed to date until she’s 16, but I told her that if a boy had the nerve to call up her house and ask for her politely on the phone she could talk to him all she wants. It hasn’t happened yet.  These kids hide behind the casual ease of texting. They can’t call me up and ask to speak to my daughter, but they can add me as a friend on Facebook and post all sorts of compromising photos and status updates. Ay caramba!

The other thing my daughter has enjoyed about her more limited contact with friends is that she’s not feeling left out of things. Much of the back and forth texting of tweens involves who is where and doing what with whom. Well, they can’t drive and we live away from the neighborhood where all her friends are getting together. She used to feel excluded reading about all the goings on. Now she doesn’t hear about it or see it and, what do you know, she doesn’t care or feel like she’s constantly missing out on things.

I think we’ve all felt that from Facebook—Everyone is doing all this stuff together and “checking in” and I’m not there! It creates anxiety where, before the constant barrage of social media, you wouldn’t know that you weren’t invited to something.

I am personally in love with texting. It is quick and convenient when you don’t have time for a phone call. But I’ve spent years and years on the phone and in person chatting with friends. I think you need a solid communications skill set before you are ready to use the shorthand language of texting. And why don’t kids have time to get together and talk with their friends? Why  are they so busy they have to text? Texting is for when you don’t have time to talk.

Read more of my writing at Babble or check out my blog, Every Day I Write the Book.

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