Remember the small thrill from passing a note in class? I do. Junior High fun...I was a 'good kid' but the excitement of passing a note, hoping not to be found out by the teacher is a feeling I can well up without much pondering.... It was a way to be secretive and be connected with friends while 'breaking a rule' that was, at it's most a dangerous act, a disruption to the teacher's lesson plan. It is normal development for tweens (9-12 year old) and particularly teens to test rules. I can remember what that first step to challenge the rules was like.....
Enough of my reminiscing, you might wonder where I am going with this idea under the topic of teen texting and dating?
Short of fear mongering, I want to point out the cyber dangers of vulnerability to intimidation and violence. We know teens test limits. The parents job is monitor and, as best they can, protect by modulating how far independence can go. Texting allows the thrill of 'secret note passing' to extend beyond of the classroom hours and by pass a caring adult's watchful eye. The innocent thrill of limit testing can be lost in this now 24-7 possible dialog. Digital communication is powerful and personal : technology has added to more to consider in the teen development process. The pressure to be accepted by one's peer group begins as a young teen and can last into one's 20's. Understanding the teen brain is key to developing a plan for your family's use of technology.
Read this - in my Toastmasters' meeting I heard a great speech on texting. Do you realize that there are text shorthands to identify the presence of a watchful of a parent? ( 9 = parent is watching, P911= parent is coming in the room, CD9 = parent is in the room, and AITR= adult in the room are just some shorthand text phrases.) WOW. A great discussion evolved after the meeting about how to teach teens responsible use of texting and instant messaging. It interferes with homework, family time and can be a near silent partner in family interactions. What rules work to ensure we keep our lines of communication open about managing this fast pace lingo that will fascinate many and befuddle others?
This topic is complex. I am using this blog post to introduce some great resources. My next post will address what parents can do to establish some realistic guidelines.
I suggest that you and anyone you know who cares for tweens and teens get fearlessly updated now. Reports tell us that use of texting has increased from about 32 million in 2003 to about 96 million in 2009. That is a tripling of this service with further growth anticipated. (cellsigns.com) So no shame in not knowing about this now, there is the danger of missed communication if you don't learn it now!
Here is a place to start. Webopedia will link you with a search engine and great article about text abbreviations. (Thanks to Felicia for sharing this great resource.)
CUL8R in my next post, Developing Your Family Plan for Electronic Communication.