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Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Texting To Build Strong Relationships With Our Teens

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My daughters and I finally got a texting plan, and I cannot tell you how much I love it! So far we have not gone over our quota, which is good, but if we do, I will gladly pony up the extra money for a larger plan.

Why, you may ask am I excited by this new toy (and seriously anti-media), and here is my answer: I communicate more with my kids now. One teen has a way cool phone with a keyboard, but the other daughter and I just use the phone pad, which is a little slow, but possible! I actually got very excited a few weeks ago to find all of the punctuation under the "1." Don't laugh - I am easily amused and typing messages without any punctuation was really annoying me.

Texting allows my kids, who spend some time with "their other parent," to text me without annoying the parent, check in with me from school, work, outings with friends, and while I am at work. It also encourages them to keep their phone on, just muted, which is great - especially for the younger one who thinks of her cell phone as "for emergencies" and finds the battery dead every time she wants to use it!

Another benefit is that texting, unlike a phone call is private, and my teens seem more comfortable texting me than they are talking to me with other people around. I get a lot more words like thanks, I luv u, miss u, perfect, hugs, kisses, cool, and perfect in text messages then I do on the phone.

The other benefit of texting is the lack of emotion associated with communication. I think words are only about 10% of communication, making unpleasant requests, much more direct - clean your room, start dinner, finish your homework, and even take the dog for a walk become easy interactions - as are can I stay later, will you bring me some money, lunch, pearl tea, clothes, cleats, etc... - there is no eye rolling or growling - just a quiet "ignore" or "an OK fine!"

According to a recent report by The Nielsen Company, the average teen with a cell phone receives 2,899 text messages a month - which terrifies me on many levels, but so far we are sharing 600 messages a month without getting close to going over - we shall see how addictive this whole texting thing becomes.
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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