Cybersafe and Savvy Tip 8: Decoding Texting in Teens

When I started my pediatric training, our first ward Attending looked at us during that first week as Interns and said to us “The thing you have to remember to stay sane and help parents stay sane is this…infants spit. It’s just who they are and it’s completely normal.”

If I were a ward Attending today, I’d offer the same advice to incoming Interns but with one additional line: “And, when raising teenagers, it’s important to remind parents of one basic fact of life: teens text – a lot. And, it’s completely normal. In fact, they have no clue a cell phone can make a call.”

Raising two teenagers right now, I can attest to both of the above…as infants, they do spit a lot. Be prepared to do a great deal of laundry.

And, when much older as teenagers, don’t expect to talk to your kids via their cell phones…they won’t recognize they sound. But, send them a text…that they’ll respond to.

Teen texting is their mainstay of communication and clearly on the rise. ┬áSo, to avoid frustration, join your teens in the world of texting. Text them and have them text you. Most are incredibly happy to do that because that’s how they prefer to communicate in general.

I actually find texting a great way to stay in touch with my kids. We use it for quick updates during the day, changes in plans, announcements of good news. Once you start encorporating it into family life, it can actually become not only a great tool but a great way to bring you closer together in a world that sometimes makes that a challenge.

But, texting can have a downside when teens start using code. More times than not it’s very innocent and your kids are happy to translate. But, if you’re worried, here’s a translator.

Texting is a tool and like all tools should be able to be turned on and off. As long as your teen can do that, don’t worry about the number. But, if you’re teen can’t do that and this tool is interfering with life in any way, call your pediatrician to talk it over.

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