I know. I know. Many of you think, “Why should I text my kids? They barely talk to me already!” I have come around a bit on this one.
According to the October 14th issue of The Wall Street Journal, the average 13 – 17 year old send and receives 3,339 text each month. I really didn’t need them to know that; I could have just looked at my AT&T; bill. The question is “why”?
WSJ reports based on a recent survey of 2,000 college students the primary goal in texting is to pass along information in as little time, with as little small talk, as possible. They want to reach out, but don’t necessarily want to be reached. For many, direct texts do not make up the majority of their messages. Twitter reports more than two billion tweets, messages consisting of no more than 140 characters, are sent via phones each month. Many texts are updates on Twitter and FaceBook messages.
So, when it comes to adults communicating with students, what does this mean? It means that sometimes if connecting is important to you, you need to communicate the way they do.
For me, it means that once a day, I try to pass along a word to my son at college. “I love you”, “Hope you are good” or “So glad you’re my son” conveying to Zach that I am thinking of him without him feeling like I am trying to helicopter parent from Charlotte. I also sometimes pass along these same sentiments to my daughters who are still at home. Think of it as a modern day letter in the mail box.
The problem comes when we try to use texting for what it is NOT good for: problem solving, heated discussions or personal information. Like email, tone of voice, body language and attitudes cannot be communicated effectively. Of all people, I learned this from my kids. My daughters told me that when I reply with a simple “OK” without a smiley face, they think I am mad at them! Or if my texts are not filled with exclamation points, they think I am not happy. Different world, but if I am going to be a part of it, I had better learn the rules.
Just as with all good things, too much of a good thing is no longer good. If you haven’t already, give texting a try. You may find you talk to your kids more. If texting is your only means of communicating, set the phone aside, grab a smoothie and head out on a long walk and catch up with your student! Whatever it takes, communicate.
Time to volunteer at middle school….