Do Teens Text Too Much?

According to a study done by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, young people between the ages of 12 and 17 send more than 100 texts a day. This may be due in part to the many unlimited plans offered by most cell companies. Texting beats out every other form of communication for this age group, including instant messaging, phone calls and face-to-face conversations.

Texting is also easy to get away with in certain situations. Kids text right under the noses of their teachers during school hours. Most of these kids are so good with their keyboards that they don’t even have to look at the device while composing and sending a message. Text messaging has become so much a part of teenagers’ lives that 87 percent of those who text said that they sleep with – or next to – their phones.

“It’s a way that their friends can easily and discreetly reach them at tiny moments during the day,” said Amanda Lenhart, senior research specialist at Pew. “It allows them to stay constantly in touch with people who are important to them. Texting is a much different experience than calling somebody on a land line, where you might get their parents. There’s an element of ownership for teenagers around texting.”

Teens feel that it’s easier to communicate with people when they cannot hear their voices or see their faces. As evidenced in several reports about this subject, teens will confront each other more often over issues via a text. It’s a good thing that they are talking more to each other, and seemingly becoming able to work through differences and difficulties without the hindrance and nerves that come with face-to-face confrontations.

However, I can’t help but wonder how this will affect these kids’ verbal communication skills later in life. We grew up having to talk to people… in person. Kids today are relying more heavily on digital methods of communication. Their “speech” is now defined with easy-to-remember word abbreviations, such as “wut r u doing.” I cringe every time someone sends me an email full of “language” such as this.

Another concern has to be privacy. Teens likely cling to their phones due to the fact that they feel they have more control over their content. It’s not as easy for parents to see what’s going on as it was when they could listen in on phone conversations. I admit that my mouth hit the floor when I read where one teen stated that his mom gave up trying to read his texts when she couldn’t crack his phone password. If this were my child, they would no longer HAVE a cell phone. While parents don’t necessarily need to “police” their children and know every single thing they are doing, they DO need to be aware of what’s going on in their child’s world.

What are your thoughts? Is widespread teen texting a good thing? Do you wonder how these kids will communicate in the “real world” when they become adults? Heck, will we even stop needing to communicate face-to-face in the future? Maybe I’m a fuddy-duddy. Perhaps everything will be digital one day, and we’ll never hear another human voice.