On my commute to a middle school this morning, I heard a story on the radio about the 20% of teens who can be called “hyper texters”…texting 120 times a day or more. A just-published study reveals that these heavy texters “were three times more likely than their peers to have had sex and also had higher rates of drug use, alcohol use and fighting.” The radio host posited a theory, that these teens might have common characteristics that drive both texting and poor choices: low impulse control and susceptibility to peer influence. This newspaper article quoted the lead author of the study with another theory: “If parents are monitoring their kids’ texting and social networking, they’re probably monitoring other activities as well,” said Dr. Scott Frank.” The article later noted studies that have shown these facts as well:
– Only 14% of kids said their parents limit texting.
– A third of 16- and 17-year-olds send texts while driving.
– One in four teens has “sexted” – shared X-rated content by phone or online.
Teens tend to use texting the way we used phones chats…to communicate, so blocking all texting may not be an appropriate response. But some kind of monitoring and limits might be appropriate. One parent told me that her kids have to “park” their phones in a basket in the kitchen at homework time and bedtime. Another parent checks picture mail from time to time. Yeah, I know that’s snooping, but her child isn’t an adult yet, and it’s a dangerous world out there.