My third teenager got a cell phone for her birthday last month, so two of my offspring now have cell phones. These amazing tools obviously enable us to stay better connected. (All American Boy/Teen Number Two wanted a shotgun for HIS birthday. Unfortunately, it doesn't get good cell service.)
The number one reason that most kids want cell phones: texting. It seems that most teens enjoy having short, 160 character bursts of communication rather than actual conversations. In fact, I have heard some kids declare that "texting is just so much more personal than an actual conversation." Go figure. Whatever the logic these young whipper-snappers use, we can know this communication trend is here to stay. (Out of touch dinosaurs such as myself are allowed to use the word whipper-snapper.)
At our house, we got a cell plan for each of our phones that enables us to have 200 texts per person per month. That's enough to stay in touch and to use texting when we need to, but not so much that our kids constantly have their heads and fingers buried in their phones. I limited us to that after hearing too many parents tell me stories of their kids hitting two and three-thousand texts in one month. And there was this gnawing feeling inside that there is something wrong with that.
So what are the long-term affects of teens utilizing texting more than actual dialog? Jennifer Ludden wrote a great article for NPR that addresses these issues. It is definitely worth a read. As you scan the article, consider how these things might be affecting your kids. And have a great conversation with them about the ways they communicate with others.
You can read the article here.