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Texting and family unity

August 3, 2009

This headline from the SL trib caught my attention:

Can texting bring teens, parents closer 2gether?

The assertion is that communication between parents & teens via texting is easier and more successful.  I see their point, if these are your two options for getting your messy teenager to clean up their room:

A REAL conversation:

Parent: You are such a slob.  When are you going to clean your sty?  It’s starting to stink in there.
Child: You can’t force me to do that!  Why did you give birth to me if you expect me to clean up after myself?
Parent: You are grounded for life.  You can stay in your room until the smell bothers you enough to do something about it.

Via text:

Parent: Can you clean your room?
Child: Sure

Obviously this is an extreme example, but the point of the article is that because texting eliminates emotion, it’s a better way to communicate with a demographic that’s chronically uncommunicative.

“It’s way easier to do over a text than when I ask her to do it person,” said the Salt Lake County mom. “I don’t get the rolled eyes or have to hear ‘I know, Mom.’ Maybe there’s a little bit of avoidance there, but it works for both of us.”

I have to wonder if her daughter still rolling her eyes and thinking, “ah!  My mom is so demanding.”

I have to wonder if embracing this form of communication is doing a disservice to texting teens in the long term.  How will they learn to communicate with a demanding boss or professor?  To interact with an irate customer or client?  To resolve issues with a roommate and friend, and eventually a spouse or child?

I once heard that the struggle with adolescence is that you’ve got kids realizing they want to be adults, but don’t yet know how; and that somehow parents have to help their offspring learn what teens think they don’t have to be taught.  I have to wonder, if texting is embraced, what’s being taught?  What are teenagers learning?

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