As a child development consultant and parenting expert, mother, wife and friend, I often wonder if texting is really a good and effective form of communication. We are just in the beginning stages of looking at the research on the pros and cons of texting. Even though we are in a virtual world of texting, video games, social networking, and web communities, what does our future look like for the next generation?
According to the industry research 61% of our children between the ages of 3 and 11 are “virtual world visitors“. 22% of our children, between the ages of 6-9 years of age already have cell phones (YIKES!). According to Parenting.com, 58% of our children of the ages of 10-15 listed texting as a major form of communication.
In order to better help you and the young children, teens, and other adult kids in your life, I have compiled some of the field research on the pros and cons of texting.
- Between 8-13 years of age, kids spend a majority of their online, and over the phone time with the same people they know in real life.
- Kids love it!
- Subscribers under 12 years of age exchanged 3 texts per call to stay in touch with their friends.
- Teens 13-17 years of age were 7 times more likely to text.
- It allows a buffer according to Nathan Freier, PhD at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, against “feelings of awkwardness during this emotionally frightened age.”
- Short text messages help relieve anxiety in some children.
- Much of the texts, according to researchers, is that kids build each other up by making positive statements.
- Kids see technology as extending communication, rather than replacing time with a friend.
- Marion Underwood, a researcher, stated “Kids stay more in touch with their families through texting.”
- According to Underwood, mothers are the first person a child texts.
- Parents enjoy sharing funny faces, comments, and ways to interact with their tweens by texting or online messaging.
- Oftentimes parents are grateful to hear that their kids are doing fine in terms of safety and happiness.
- Cell phones should be removed from children’s bedrooms because kids do not know when to stop texting during the night and become sleep deprived.
- Communication with strangers can turn into very frightening situations because of the naivety of a child, tween, or teen.
- It is less likely that families will eat dinner together and talk in person due to social media.
- Families feel less connected when there has been an increase in total time spent over the phone versus in person.
- If parents role model texting in front of their kids by being on the phone and taking phone calls, then it decreases their time spent talking to their children and they will repeat the same pattern in their own lives.
- The term Ambient Intimacy is when social media, electronic devices, texts, calls, etc. can take the place of living out real life moments together with people.
- Dating can become an uncomfortable situation by being asked out through texting and not on a telephone to clarify and uphold accountability. This is a casual method to connect face to face. Intentions can also be misconstrued.
- Breaking up through a text or a social media message can also be considered a rude, and disrespectful.
We, as a nation, need more research on the effects of social media and the way we relate to one another in terms of our children’s future. Only then can we conclude on whether or not texting is helping or harming our children’s, and family’s communication skills