Friday, January 16, 2009

Does your teen text too much?

Over at's Child Caring blog, we're talking about teenagers and text messages. A 13-year-old girl in California sent and received more than 14,500 text messages in a single month.

Yes, you read that correctly. Fourteen thousand, five hundred and twenty eight SMS messages. One kid. That's a lot of TTYLs.

Luckily for them, they had an unlimited text-messaging plan, but still, 14,528 text message seems a bit... excessive, to say the least. Even if that grand total includes incoming and outgoing messages.

A late-2008 Nielsen study of 50,000 US cell-phone users found that most people nowadays text more often than they talk.

"U.S. teens (ages 13 to 17) had the highest levels of text messaging in Q2 2008, sending and receiving an average of 1,742 text messages per month," the study showed. During that same time period, teens made or received an average of just 231 mobile phone calls.

Our 13-year-old definitely fits this bill -- she'd much prefer to text than talk. (though I don't think we've ever reached 1,742 texts in a month, let alone 14,000+). And I can see the appeal: Little siblings can't eavesdrop and then go screeching to tell Mommy or Daddy what you said, you can text under the desk at school (well, in theory) or from the couch while watching "American Idol," you can sit in the car while waiting for your siblings and have multiple miniature conversations with several friends nearly simultaneously.

Isolated incident? Apparently, not... after the 14,500+ story hit the news, a Florida father contacted the media to say that his teenage girl has had more than 35,000 in a month -- twice. Her highest tally was in June, when she racked up 35,463 texts (that's about 1,182 a day).

Like many parents, I'm wondering 1.) How on earth can anyone DO that? and 2.) How can we curb our own thumb-tapping teens before our bills get anywhere near that level?

Does your teen text a lot? How does it affect kids and their abilities to interact with real people in real life (that is, in person, and without using LOL, TTYL, or OMG).

No comments: