A new study has found that teens who text 120 times a day are more likely to have sex and use drugs and alcohol. That's right. There appears to be a significant link between extreme texting and risky behavior.
And guess who's to blame? Why, as their parents, you are, of course. The authors of the study suggest that teens who "hyper-text" are likely to have hands-off or absent parents.
Don't think texting is a big deal? What's the harm in a little heavy texting, say you. Take heed, my fellow parent, in a little advice from a wild ex-teen.
I mean, myself, of course. I was once a wild teenager -- and perhaps only escaped because texting hadn't been invented yet.
First, let me just remind you, in case you forgot or you were one of those good teenagers, that teens are savvy little sneaks when they want to be. They can do a lot of bad things in very little time.
Even without texting, I managed to take part in all the above-mentioned risky behaviors in the one hour between school getting out and my mom coming home from work. One hour. Most teens have a heck of a lot more time on their hands than that.
If I go back in time to my teen mind and add in the element of texting, oh my what horrors I could have accomplished. There's the part where shyness is virtually erased. Many kids will type things they would never say in person -- to a crush, to a frenemy, to a stranger. I know I would have.
And then there's the part where you never ever miss out any of the delinquent action. Never ever. Your friends score pot and are smoking it behind the gym. You get a text so you can join them. You and your girlfriend can't find the giant party that's supposed to be happening the next neighborhood over. You get a text with directions and you end up there, right along with the cops. Your boyfriend's mom isn't home one afternoon after school. You get a text so you can meet him for a couch make-out session and maybe more.
See what I'm getting at here? Texting is not only a powerful way to experiment in conversations you might not have face to face, but also a great tool for finding more trouble than you might otherwise.
Alright, alright. You're not a bad parent if you let your teens text. I know I'm going to let my kids text when they're teens (or whatever godawful technology is available in a few years). However, don't fool yourself into believing no harm can be done with it. You might want to set some limits and do a little monitoring. And please reconsider letting them keep that phone in their room at night.
In comes at text at 2 a.m. from the neighborhood bad boy or girl, "Outside yr window w a btl of JD. Com out & mt me." Get my drift?
Do you monitor your kids' texting? How much or how little? How many texts a day is he/she averaging?