Parents & Tweens – Please read together!
If you’ve got a kid with a smart phone or other device with which to text, chances are they have felt some sense of consternation (feelings of anxiety or dismay) over a friend not responding to texts in a timely manner… or at all. The average age of kids with phones seems to be ten to twelve, but many are younger.
I often hear stories about kids receiving incessant, sometimes desperate, texts from friends who are expecting to hear back from them instantaneously, or shortly thereafter. It could go something like this:
Rule No. 5 of the #SweetSixteen in “@Sophie Takes a #Selfie” is #WorryNot reads in part:
Don’t worry that a certain someone hasn’t responded to a message that you can see has been read. Maybe she’s busy… or fell and broke both of her elbows… or was in a terrible thumb wrestling accident with her brother. Maybe her phone died just as she was about to respond… or maybe, just maybe… your true blue friend has a busy life outside of cyberspace!
Kids don’t have the maturity or perspective that only comes with life experience to understand that in most cases, their friend’s phone is probably dead or they’re just plain busy doing something else… like, being a kid. In some cases, kids are literally becoming paranoid and unnecessarily saddened at the fact that they haven’t heard back from a friend. It is our job as parents to make our digital kids understand and adhere to appropriate boundaries and expectations when it comes to communicating with their friends.
It’s just a theory but, being the overly observant type that I am, I can’t help but notice everywhere I go that many adults seem to have grown an extra appendage from their hand in the form of a smart phone. Listen, I can be as guilty as the next person, but I don’t find it necessary to be clutching my iPhone at all times and am very aware that my kids are watching me.
I’ve noticed that every time my phone beeps or buzzes, one of my daughters will inevitably say, “MaAOm, somebody’s texting you!” “Well, aren’t you going to answer!!”. As a result, I am turning these into teachable moments where I can (try) to be a good example by showing them that I don’t always need to respond immediately or with such urgency.
To be clear, I do not text and drive – ever. It can wait!
Please DO speak with your kids to help them understand that life is busy and their friends have a lot going on with their own families.
Teach kids to say “Hi” once, not three or four or ten times.
Teach kids how to politely be the first to end a conversation and not “over-text” or potentially make a friend feel put off or annoyed once whatever they needed to say has been said.
Most importantly, our kids need to know that everyone needs their “space”… even in cyberspace.
Thanks for stopping by,
xo Jen “J.J.”