The number of text messages the average teen sends today is staggering. The last statistic I saw was that teen girls send over 3300 text messages a month, an average of more than 100 texts /day. Of course most of this happens at bus stops and after school, between activities, and distills down to messages about homework, rides, and boys. For kids who are “hypertexters” (over 120 messages/day) there is some research correlating the behavior to high risk taking, too... but I’m not convinced.
In fact, I’m trying to figure out my reaction to all the finger action and what seems to be the irresistible urge of the teen girls I know to text each other in the same room or when piled in the same car. Social scientists and journalists lament whether this is the end of authentic interpersonal interactions, the learning of social skills needed to be contributing adults in the world, ethical behavior, and so on.
But I have to say I have come to see the texting as one way I know my 13-year-old daughter still cares. If all I get is something like this:
“Can u pick me up@ graces? <kisses>”
…. I’ll take it.
I mean, when do you get a real hug or kiss at this stage anyway?
It strikes me that texting serves a new way for teens to hint to their parents they are appreciated, the kind of gesture that will no longer be acknowledged in a sideways hug, high five, or God forbid, a verbal “thanks” or “love ya” face to face. It’s sort of like when around the age of 8, you can no longer kiss your kid on the forehead before she hops on the bus for her fear of being ruthlessly tagged as being a baby.
So while my not-so-little girl has entered the beginning of what Erik Erikson dubbed the “Identity vs. Role Confusion” - that betwixt and between developmental stage from child to adulthood, it seems that technology may ameliorate the experience of rejection, dismissal and withdrawal. I suppose it can go the other way, too.
For now texting is like a tether, however flimsy or flighty, of sweet somethings that I can hold on to.
( . .)♥