Today, it is difficult to find a single teenager who is not glued to her cell phone. Take away their phone, and their world seems to collapse. Such is the addiction to phones that teens today can’t go a single minute without it.
Texting is their preferred mode of communication. Watching a teen’s fingers fly over the phone as they text their friend can at times look magical. How do they manage to text without even looking at the screen? Well, that’s one mystery that will remain unsolved!
Why Are Teens Addicted To Texting?
The good news is that teens today are drinking and smoking less. The bad news is that they are texting more (1)! And this new habit today has become an addiction for many. But why?
For teens, friends are the new family. It may be a bitter pill to swallow, but it is a fact. For most teens, friends come before family. And to keep their new ‘friend-family’ around, they text! They don’t want to miss out on anything. Everything needs to be shared. So, while you are busy giving your teen an earful, be sure that her fingers are busy texting her friends about how evils mothers can be!
Texting is also more convenient and private. Talking for hours at night can be difficult when you have a vigilant parent at home. Texting, on the other hand, can go on even with the lights off, and it makes no sound. And when they have nothing to talk about, teens can always text emoticons! What can be easier than to communicate through emoticons?
If you have a girl, chances are high that she is sending as many as 80 texts a day. Boys are more likely to send around 30 text messages (2). Now, that’s a lot of texts! But don’t be surprised if the number creeps up higher. Many parents report that their teens send more than 300 texts a day!
But has this easy way of communication become more of a problem today?
Perils Of Too Much Teen Texting:
As a parent of a teenager, texting must be at the top of your worries. But are you worrying about nothing? Well, if you listen to the experts, your issue with texting is genuine. Let’s take a look at how teenage texting is proving to be a problem for many families:
1. Stunted Social Growth:
When your teen does all her socializing through texting, how will she learn real social skills? It’s not rare to find teenagers who need prompting to converse with people face-to-face. But give them their phone, and they’ll become best friends in minutes! But your teen needs to learn communication without her phone. Texting does not help the cause. How many times have you prompted your teen to put down her phone while out with family? Several times, right? Well, unless her texting habits change, she is unlikely to learn how to be more social.
[ Read: Low Self Esteem In Teens ]
2. Hamper Studies:
Chances are, your teen studies and texts simultaneously. Most teenagers do. But one cannot study while texting. Your teen obviously will say otherwise. But the fact remains that to study, and to study well, one needs concentration. When teenagers are busy texting, they simply cannot keep their mind on their books.
3. Texting And Driving:
Teenagers texting while driving is one of the most concerned issues. If your teen is already driving, you have an additional thing to worry about. A number of teens confess that they text and drive. Now, that’s a recipe for disaster. Even a second of distraction can prove fatal while driving.
4. Physical and Mental Problems:
Yes, teens have young bodies. Yes, they feel invincible. But that is not the reality. All those hours spend texting can take a toll on their physical and mental health. Many teens are facing problems like tendinitis (3) thanks to excessive texting. Lapsed concentration, anxiety, and other emotional issues increase with overuse of texting (4) too. In fact, there is a new disorder making news today – sleep texting! This is where teens wake up in the middle of the night to text and remember nothing about it in the morning!
[ Read: Life Skills For Teens ]
5. Disturbed Sleep:
Most teenagers have problems sleeping. Changing hormones is one cause behind it. But teens need sleep, at least nine hours of it. But when they are busy texting, sleep can become a victim.
6. Strained Relations:
When teens use texting to communicate with friends and family, chances of misunderstanding go up. There is no way of communicating emotions through texts. This can lead to strained relations.
7. Inflated Bills:
Most parents foot their teen’s phone bills. When your teen is always texting, you can look forward to inflated bills. That can leave a dent in your budget.
8. Problems With Self Confidence:
Most teens today need to confer with their friends before they take even the smallest of decisions. The easy access to texts has made conferring with friends that much easier. But this can take away a lot from a teen’s self-confidence and make the process of decision making a battle in the future too.
[ Read: How To Talk To Teenagers ]
Is There A Way Out?
Let’s get one fact straight – texting is here to stay. Whether its WhatsApp or simply texting, technology will only make things worse. But the problem is not with the technology but how it is used. The good news is that you can wean your teen away from texts a little. But be reasonable. You cannot take it away completely. And neither should you. Texting in moderation causes no problems. So, if your teen is already a moderate texter, congratulations! But if your teen is addicted to texting (sending or receiving more than 120 texts a day), it’s time for some hard measures. Here are some steps you can take to help your teen:
1. Set Limits:
Remember, you pay the bills, and have a say on how your money is used. So, set limits on how many texts your teen can send in a day. This may lead to a scream fest at home, but it is something you need to do.
2. Keep Certain Areas Tech Free:
Make sure to keep some designated places tech free. The dining table and the bedrooms should be off limits. But remember to lead by example. So, no more office calls while eating with the family!
3. Develop Interests:
It may be time to help your teen develop interests outside of her phone. Watch movies together, play together, and allow her to travel – anything to get her off texting!
[ Read: House Rules For Teenagers ]
4. Make It A Privilege:
Make sure your teen knows that using the phone is a privilege, not a right. And a privilege can be taken away when misused. Once your teen understands that, she may be less inclined to text without a thought.
How you deal with this teen texting addiction is completely up to you. But these handy tips can give you a starting point and help you address the problem.
But don’t ban texting altogether! Texting is not a monster. It is just a technology. And don’t make it a battle either. The more you lecture your teen about texting, the more alluring it will become. So, take actions and spare the words.
How are you dealing with teenager texting in your family? Share your tips with us in the comments section below!
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