Remember when everyone had a pager and parents used pagers to keep tabs on teens who were out on the town? That technology seems prehistoric now that parents can keep up with kids via text messaging. Texting is a great way to communicate with your teen in a way she’s familiar with. But how much texting is too much?
When It’s Setting a Bad Example
Your children learn from the examples you set, even when they’re teens. Texting is no exception to this rule. Don’t text in ways you wouldn’t want your child to text. This means putting the phone away when your temper flares. It also means avoiding texting when driving. Stay off your phone during dinner and family time, and don’t text from bed. Model your own cell phone habits after the way you’d ideally like your teen to behave.
When Your Teen Is Studying
Avoid checking in on your teen during school hours and study time. You don’t want to contribute to the time your teen spends being distracted by answering texts. By preserving this time as phone-free time, you’ll help set time management standards. When your teen is studying at home, you may want to ask for the cell phone to be left in a different room so the temptation is avoided entirely.
When It’s Against the Rules
Don’t text your teen during school time if your teen’s school prohibits cell phone use. If you have something important enough to ask about during school hours, call the school’s front office. Otherwise, it can wait. The same goes for texting in doctor’s waiting rooms or other places where the management has specifically asked patrons not to use cell phones.
When You’re Overdoing It
Just because it’s easy to text doesn’t mean you should be using texting as a way to monitor your teen’s every move. Research suggests that too much texting can contribute to unhealthy behaviors in teens. Don’t add to this potential problem. If you find that you’re texting your teen many times a day, consider cutting back on the habit. Instead, check in at specific pre-determined times. For example, you may ask your teen to check in when he arrives at a destination at night.
Remember to look for signs that texting may be a problem in your child’s life. The Mayo Clinic suggests looking out for skipping activities, changes in weight, and academic problems. If you think your child has a problem with text messaging, sit down and talk to her immediately—face to face.
The LiveFree! Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition is a coalition of members of the community who strive to address alcohol and drug use in Pinellas County. Visit us online today to see how you can get involved in this cause that is so important to our community.