Hidden Advantages of Texting with Teens

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When my older son (now 20) started high school, we got him a bare-bones cell phone.  After all, there aren’t any more pay phones outside the school gym for kids to call their parents for a ride after sports practice.  It didn’t take long before he was using up all his prepaid “minutes” on text messages.

We griped about it but ultimately switched him to a regular phone plan that included texting.  It’s how his generation communicates.  And the next family member on the text-message plan was not his younger sister—it was me.

I’m a slow texter, to be sure, but I do text my kids regularly.  When I show up at school to pick them up, I’ll just message them:  “Here,” and they run out the door.  When my son first got his driver’s license, I’d ask him to text me when he got to his destination.  No one had to know he was texting his mom; there was no loss of dignity on his part, and I didn’t have to worry.  It was a win-win.

That led me to realize yet another advantage of texting with teens and young adults:  if they’re in an uncomfortable situation, such as a party that spirals out of control, they can text us for a rescue.  We’re willing to be the Bad Guy and make them come home.  Again, no one has to know that they’re texting their parents.  Teens use their phones so much that texting in the middle of just about any other activity is pretty much expected.

My 16-year-old daughter texts me during her lunch break at school.  For that matter, she’ll text me from another part of the house if she just needs to vent about something.  And sometimes, when my son’s away at school and I haven’t heard from him in a bit, I’ll just text “goodnight” at the end of my day.  I get an answer right back—every time.

With my Big Kids, texting is just another way we keep the lines of communication open.  And this is why I’ve been keeping my cell phone on my person rather than in my purse.

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Copyright 2012 Barb Szyszkiewicz

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About Author

Barb Szyszkiewicz is a wife, mom, Secular Franciscan, and editor at CatholicMom.com. Her three children range in age from high school to young adult, and she enjoys writing, cooking, and reading. Barb is a music minister at her parish and an avid Notre Dame football and basketball fan. Find her blog at FranciscanMom and her family’s favorite recipes with nutrition information for diabetics at Cook and Count.

10 Comments

  1. So true, Barb! My son wasn’t much for the phone calls in college, but we did text back and forth. Texting became much easier for me once I got a phone with a qwerty keyboard!

    • My son actually calls me more than I expected him to, but it’s usually when he’s on his way, walking somewhere–so in the middle of a conversation he’ll say, “Gotta go–I’m at the door to my class.” Texting works great though; I can send him a joke or let him know to check his mail for a package…all really quick, and he can reply when he’s free.

  2. I don’t have teens yet, but I sure appreciate when my husband texts me at the end of his workday to let me know he’s on the way home. It helps me time dinner plans, etc. And on stressful mommy days, it is a welcome relief to know some respite is soon on the way! 🙂

    • I love those “on my way” messages! Since my older son is now working with Dad for the summer, I get texts from the kid instead of a call from my husband. Either way works–I know when they’ll be heading in for dinner. (And the respite is still welcome–even though my kids are 10 and up!)

  3. Good article. When my boys were in high school, cell phones were really new. my oldest had a pager so I could get a hold of him! Later we did the prepaid phone thing. Now my boys live far away so texting is a great way to just say hi. Or Love you! And when my granddaughter was born a week ago, we got the text and a picture right away! Awesome!

  4. I love this post — yes, texting seems to be the best way to stay in good contact with my college aged son, and also to pass quick messages to our high schooler. Here’s a question for you Barb, at what age do you allow your kids to have texting? In our house, the rule is after you graduate from high school. Our 17 year old has what we call “emergency” texting — he has a very limited plan and can only text mom, dad and his brother. This keeps him from texting while driving, which is a deadly combo for teen boys. He also has a “dumb” phone, something that is very sad for him… I know, I’m the meanest mom in town!

    • Wow, Lisa, you are even a meaner mom than me! I will have to show my children this when they tell me how mean I am 😉 But each family needs to set rules and policies that work in their particular circumstances.
      We didn’t restrict texting. Once they get a cell phone they get a text plan. (My daughter got a phone at age 13; her older brother got one when he entered high school, so we have adjusted this a bit…but the 10-year-old has no hope of a phone anytime soon).
      Actually, for teens, I’d love to see a cell phone with text only, no voice. No teenager I know ever uses up all their minutes. They use their phones with their thumbs, not their ears and mouths.
      I hate to see people blaming teenagers as if they’re the only ones TWD. In my world, adults (including moms, with kids in the car) are just as guilty, if not more so.
      We have made it clear that phones can be impounded as we parents see fit…poor grades, rule violations, and such.

  5. All of my babysitters prefer to communicate by text, so I have definitely had to use it. But I love it. Unobtrusive and quick. I also like to use it to flirt with my husband. 😉

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