To Text or Not To Text

I have very mixed feelings when it comes to my children and technology.   On the one hand, I believe that they have to be proficient at technology to succeed as entrepreneurs.  On the other hand, I want them to exercise their imaginations and learn interpersonal skills that technology can inhibit them from learning.

texting

Let’s talk about cell phones. Here is Brett, our oldest at 15, looking at Jim’s phone.  Why does she have her father’s phone? Because my children don’t have them.  And do you know what that means?  It means they don’t text (although they know how to).  Personally, I don’t care for texting.  It is a useful tool that I do occasionally employ, but it is for basic passing of information such as “Send me directions” or “What time are we meeting?”  or “What do I need to pick up at the store?”  It’s better than a phone call when you are passing along information that you need to later refer to.

A big problem that I see is that people are using texting to replace deeper, more meaningful conversations.  Texters are having more superficial conversations with a greater number of people.  I’m not sure that this is emotionally healthy and I fear that it leads to adults who can’t handle serious conversations without getting completely distracted.

I did a little bit of thinking and came up with the following points.

Positives of Children Texting:

  • Instant communication provides quick check ins even in noisy situations
  • Cheap
  • Easy
  • Fun
  • Unlike phone calls, provides a written reminder – e.g. “Be home by 6:45”

Negatives of children texting:

  • Instant communication causes children to say (or text) things without thinking about the consequences of what they’re saying
  • Distracting and decreases ability to focus
  • Reduces attention span by providing constant interruptions
  • Teachers and education experts report that children’s writing and language skills such as spelling, word choice and writing difficulty are being negatively affected
  • You can not communicate tone, which may lead to miscommunication and problems

I think the scariest thing for me is the fact that studies are showing that texting and driving are more dangerous than drinking and driving.  The Transportation Research Laboratory in London showed that texting while driving causes reaction times to decrease (35%) three times as much drinking (at the legal limit) reaction times decreased (12%).

For me the issue with technology comes down to the age at which it is introduced.  My children will all eventually get cell phones, the question really becomes at what age they get them.

There is a phenomenon that I’ve seen referred to as “modeling down”.  It means that things are happening to people at younger and younger ages.  It doesn’t just apply to technology, but in this case, as technology becomes cheaper and more commonplace, children are getting their hands on technology at a younger and younger age.  The problem of course comes with the fact that while children may be technically proficient with the technology, that does not mean that they are emotionally proficient.  Their maturity levels may just not be able to handle technology in a responsible manner.

When my children are given the privilege of cell phones with which they can text, it will come with a lot of limitations.

What about you?  What’s your opinion on children texting?

 

Related posts:

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • we have 6 kids, the oldest of which is 13. none of them have cell phones. there have been a time or two when it would have been helpful to have been able to text our 13-year-old with a change in plans or a reminder of the original plan, etc., but not yet enough to warrant getting him a phone, in our opinion. he is one of the VERY, very few kids at his school that don’t have a phone. we haven’t decided yet at what point we’ll let him have one, but when the time comes it will most certainly come with major restrictions!

    • Hey Shana,

      One of the things I’ve seen too is that once the oldest gets something, I’m much more likely to let the younger ones have it at earlier ages. Brett thinks it is very unfair. And I have to agree with her.

      PJ

  • See I like texting for my kids, but they only text me. My son is 16 and has a cell phone since 6th grade when he went on an all day field trip to the state capital so we could stay in touch. That cell phone has proven to be very useful when he’s at cross country practice and it ends early or he needs to stay after school for any reason. This past year I set my daughter up with texting on her iPod so that while I was out she could talk to me. This was also in preparation for the trip she was suposed to take with my parents this summer. So that when she got home sick I would be right there, either through text/Skype/FaceTime or what ever. So for our use texting is good. This has usually been the only way I text too with my ex, short blurbs just passing quik info. Before it would just be to let me know which train he was on.

    Now if either kid was texting all the time to who knows who I’d probably think different. But my son isn’t a social butterfly and talks with his smattering of friends on XBOX over the weekends when he has access to it – which I do like better than texting or chatting because I can hear his side of the conversation. I think though as my daughter gets older rules will be adjusted as her friends start to have access to texting and phones too since she is a social butterfly.

    • Tracy – when we went to Disney World, the older two children had phones that we would use for texting. I agree it was very convenient.

      My biggest concern is that I know of several young adults whose primary form of communication is texting. They don’t use it as a convenience tool. This just seems wrong to me.

      PJ

  • Shari

    Our oldest is 13 and he does not have a cell phone. He will not get a cell phone for quite some time. It’s just not necessary. I agree that texting on a regular basis will inhibit good grammar and prevent them from having meaningful conversation face-to-face with someone. I believe as parents it’s our responsibility to mold and shape our kids and make the best decisions for them.

    Technology is necessary for the to learn, but some of the technology today will be put on “hold” for our boys and they will not receive those items until an older age. And there will be strict limitations.

    • Hi Shari – do you homeschool? I think it is so much easier for me to withhold cell phones because we homeschool. If the children are out without me, they take either Jim or my phone with them to use. But Brett gets her driving permit in a couple of weeks. So before I know it she’ll be driving and then I’ll want her to have her own. So I’ve been thinking on those strict limitations. 😉

      PJ

  • I totally agree with you on cell phones and texting. We have a sixteen year old and an eleven year old (both girls, both homeschooled). We found ourselves having to get Amelia a phone a little over a year ago – much earlier than I wanted – due to the fact that our younger child was being hospitalized on an emergency basis constantly. Amelia was being bounced around between neighbors, friends and grandparents, so we felt that she needed to be able to have direct access to us at all times. She also knew enough about her sister’s condition to know that children with Melorah’s syndrome do not life “normal” lifespans.

    We were very pleasantly surprised by her responsibility with the phone. She does not text on a daily basis – only when necessary, same for calling. My only complaint is that she doesn’t like to hear the phone ring, so her phone is always on vibrate, usually in her room or purse…. so she never hears her phone ring (ie: if I am at the store and trying to remember if we are out of something). LOL

    I thought I read about a device that could be installed in a car that could deactivate cell phone use in that car while the car was in motion. Texting and driving scare me too!!

    • Hi Jennifer,

      I checked out your blog and read a little bit about Dravet. I think the name of your blog is very appropriate and I said a prayer that He would continue to bestow His grace upon you in all things.

      That’s wonderful that Amelia is so responsible with her phone. It makes such a big difference being able to trust them not to abuse it. And what you described is the type of situation where I am so thankful for technology. It’s a great example of where technology is useful.

      I’m sure there is a device that does disable cell phones while in a car. And if not, somebody is probably inventing it right now. LOL

      PJ

  • Jeremy

    You said that texting is cheap. True for 1 or 2 texts, but my experience is that, as work expands to fit the time available, so texting expands to fit the phone credit available. Many kids send over 100 texts a day, which ebds up really expensive. The best is to get the kids prepaid phones like Tracfones.. You can decide how many minutes you want to load every month and, perhaps for the first time in their lives, the kids can learn how to budget.

    • Jeremy – you’re very right. Anything in excess can become quickly expensive (especially when you have 8 children! LOL) I’m a huge believer that children need to understand the expense side of everything they do. My children are in a unique position in that we have a family business and they have jobs and they get paid. Because of this, they learn very early on about money and the cost of things and how much they have to do to pay for what it is they want. I think these skills are missing from too many people’s lives – children, teens, and adults.

      PJ

  • Ivy T

    All of our older kids got their own phones when they were 15. The girl texts constantly while the boys don’t. The current 15 year old actually prefers to leave his phone at home if he is going out with us. We have to remind him to bring it in case we need to split up while shopping, etc. I don’t like the idea of younger ones having dedicated phones. I have one friend who has one cell phone for their kids to share and they can only use it while they are out of the house (mainly for emergency use–hanging with friends, etc). Because it is shared, they don’t text much for fear of siblings reading their texts and all that. We use the parental controls on our kids’ phones so they can’t text after bedtime (except to us, like when they have sleepovers) and we also take the phones away when/if they are grounded.

    • Hi Ivy,

      That one phone idea for all the children (so nothing is private) is a great idea. LOL Right now that’s kind of how we operate in that the children just take mine or Jim’s if they’re out without us.

      PJ