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There's No <3 in Texting

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Bruce Sallan: While a friend and I were walking, we started talking about how our kids use modern communication and social media in their lives -- to often-destructive results.

teenage boy texting

The friend related the story of his 18-year-old high-school senior asking a girl to be his prom date ... via a text message! Fortunately for his son, the girl liked him a lot, and texted back, "Yes."

Later, when his son and date were making their plans, they discussed another good friend who was nervous about asking a particular girl to be his date to the prom. The son asked, "Should he text her?" His date's response was an immediate and emphatic, "NO!"

Now, my friend's son realized that he might've messed up by asking his date out via a text. He asked his dad for advice, and my friend suggested that he take his date out and -- formally, with flowers in hand -- ask her to the prom again. His son wisely took this sage advice, and his prom date was thrilled, saying "Yes" again -- but this time, with true adoration in her eyes.

Our kids are NOT learning how to communicate with all their tech toys. They're not thinking before they hit "Send." They're not really relating to each other when it's done in 140 characters with a tweet, or via e-mail, or via texting and its shorthand acronyms. Hell, I remember sitting by a rotary-dial phone, staring at it with a nervous stomach, trying to get up the nerve to call a girl I liked to just talk -- let alone ask her to the prom.

Do we really think, "ttyl, lol, WTF, brb, rofl, lmao, idk, stfu" are deep ways of communicating? My kids don't even bother with voicemail anymore -- they just see who called, erase the message, and call back if (or when) they want. This is communicating? They break up via text, they ask for sex via text, they say, "I love you" via text (with one of those stupid heart icons), etc.

I think this stinks. They're not learning the necessary skills to succeed in a work environment or with a spouse and kids. But what do I know? I'm just a guy.


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9 comments so far | Post a comment now
Denise April 23, 2010, 6:38 AM

My kids don’t have cell-phones but they play kid games on our one computer. Do I have to get them phones? Ugh, it’s so much more complicated. I’ve hit “send” too soon with my boyfriend. I can’t imagine the trouble kids get into. Thanks for this caution Bruce.

MAdams April 23, 2010, 12:37 PM

I totally agree. I have teenage nieces and nephews who all have cell phones and Facebook pages and they definitely do not think before they hit Send or post a message. It worries me, I think, more then their parents. I see how potentially dangerous this is not only socially, but when they give out too much information about themselves when they really don’t know who’s reading what they write.

Bruce Sallan April 24, 2010, 3:52 PM

I just read a powerful longer blog/rant on this subject in a great blog called “Slice of Life” and highly recommend it as further reading on this volatile subject. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/9STln5

Jeff April 24, 2010, 10:13 PM

Bruce, you are always a few years ahead of me so I love to read your blogs so I can anticipate what is coming up! And, you only re-inforce my dis-interest in texting which I still don’t do - or facebook - or Twitter. And, my life feels full believe it or not!

jane April 24, 2010, 11:16 PM

What a great article Bruce! And what refreshing action your friend took with his son. Bet there were butterflies in the tummy with the second Prom invite, lol.

Denise, there is very little measuring of words with technology today. And no, you don’t have to get a phone for your kids. They honestly don’t need them, for anything. Check your reasons why, when and if you do purchase them one. Just because their friends have them, does not mean they need them.

Thanks Bruce, for a refreshing look at a harsh reality.

Elliott Kim April 29, 2010, 12:03 PM

I agree wholeheartedly. Texting is a powerful tool, but hardly a replacement for good verbal (and non-verbal) face-to-face communication.

Suzette May 1, 2010, 7:44 PM

I totally agree with your assessment of our kids interactions via tech toys - it’s impersonal, cold and rude! However, this is their reality and as much as we dislike it we are not going to change its direction - Steve Jobs and his cronies are making sure of this. The only thing we DO have power over is each of our children’s education at home; we need to be almost forceful in the way we inculcate sensitivity, compassion and good manners. Your friend’s tactic of insisting on face time to ask a girl to prom was brilliant!! It all begins at home, but I agree that with technology outpacing our traditional parenting skills, our job is only getting more difficult!

Suzette May 1, 2010, 7:46 PM

I totally agree with your assessment of our kids interactions via tech toys - it’s impersonal, cold and rude! However, this is their reality and as much as we dislike it we are not going to change its direction - Steve Jobs and his cronies are making sure of this. The only thing we DO have power over is each of our children’s education at home; we need to be almost forceful in the way we inculcate sensitivity, compassion and good manners. Your friend’s tactic of insisting on face time to ask a girl to prom was brilliant!! It all begins at home, but with technology outpacing our traditional parenting skills , our job is only getting more difficult!!

claw May 3, 2010, 11:50 AM

I have a 14 daughter and a 9 year old son. Both my kids have cell phones, however, my 9 year old is not allowed to text and is only allowed to use his phone to call myself or his dad. I check his phone daily to make sure he is following the rules. Although a friend of his has taught him how to use text he is not allowed to use it and he obeys the rules. My daughter on the other hand is constantly using her text. More than once she has told me about fights she has gotten into with friends via text. I advise her to go over to that friend’s house and speak to them personally. When she does she is usually able to work it out. In today’s world it is impossiable not to be caught up in the technology, but we as parents need to make sure that our children know that proper comunication is needed in certian circumstances.


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