Tag Archives: cellphones

Suffocated by texts

Hey.

Whatsup?

Hi lol.

Where ru?

Txt me back.

What r u doin?

Xoxo

Pls txt me.

Who u with?

Y won’t you txt me?

I luv u!

R u there?

Answer me!

Ur mkng me angry!

TXT ME!!!

….

….

….

To many teens, this one-sided texting conversation is hardly unfamiliar.  However, it is concerning.  And it’s a topic of discussion that should be brought up in any household where cellphone owning teens live.  Overtexting is abusive.  In fact, it can become a form of control when a boyfriend or girlfriend is constantly texting their Significant Other (SO) to the point that the other person feels like they’re suffocating.

My friend “Sue” described the situation of her friend “Molly” and her boyfriend “Josh”. When Sue and Molly were hanging out, Molly’s phone kept lighting up as Josh texted her. And each time, Molly would pick it up and text Josh back. Finally Sue had to say something because she felt like Molly would rather be hanging out with Josh than with her. Molly apologized and put the phone away. And for the next hour, the phone buzzed in Molly’s purse. When she checked it later, the texts that started out as innocent started getting angrier and angrier. And Josh and Molly got into a huge fight over it.

This problem is not uncommon.

She knows I'm hanging out with my friends. So why does she keep texting me?

The person who is being constantly texted feels hounded. They can’t do anything without their bf/gf popping up and interrupting their SO’s time away from them. If they text back, it will encourage more dialogue. If they don’t text back, it will result in a bunch of angry texts and most likely, a fight.  And suddenly, rather than the smitten feelings they once felt over this person, they feel smothered and tempted to break up with them.

And the person who’s texting constantly is, first, texting because they care for and miss their bf/gf. Or maybe just because they’re bored. Or perhaps it’s just to let the other person know they’re thinking of them. And when they aren’t texted back, they worry something’s going on, especially when they both text each other constantly at other times.  Are they cheating?  Are they mad?  Have they forgotten about them?  Did something bad happen? 

It’s possible that neither side means for this to become an abusive situation. But the truth is, when someone feels uncomfortable or imprisoned in the relationship, changes need to be made. But what can be done?

A website called thatsnotcool.com has tackled this particular situation through videos on the subject. Here’s one of their videos:

While humorous, the message couldn’t be more clear.  But what I especially found interesting were the comments on the video from people going through this very thing.  Here are just a few:

“i have this same situation. the thing is that we arent even dating. i like him and he likes me and we’re getting to know each other but he texts me a gazillion times a day and at least 15 calls a day and when i dont answer he gets really mad and sends constant txts and calls until i pick up. i really like him but i cant take talking on the phone that much.”

“omg. okay. this happens to me all the time with my boyfriend. he texts me every 20-30 minutes. he’s always like:”hey watchya up to?” and if i dont text him back, he says: “hey. r u there?” and he ends up spamming my phone. and i end up getting 100 texts by the end of the day. its so annoying. i hate it! >:O”

“i usually just text my boyfriend once & wait like 15 min then send it one more time if he dosent reply cause sometimes my phone wont send it the first. but i never go over two txt messages. i just wait & ask him what happen later. & that works for me cause i don’t seem clingy & i get my answer. if he doesn’t txt me for like an hour i send a babe?? here & there . i think it works out pretty good.”

“i like my boyfriend a lot. and i like texting him because hes always with his friends or girls i dont know. and it makes me feel better to text him. it makes me feel like he knows im still there for him and maybe he wont flurt with other girls. im not obsessive. i mean when he doesnt answer me i dont keep texting. but its hard for me not to. how can i stop feeling like i cant trust him?”

….

Texting etiquette is an important discussion to have with your teen, even if it’s bound to induce some major eye rolling in response.  But don’t leave it alone.  Even if you think they aren’t listening to you, if they hear it enough some of it is bound to seep in.  Introduce the topic with your teen by asking them what might go on in someone’s mind if they are being constantly texted.  And ask them why someone might feel the need to be the overtexter.  Help them to understand both sides of the situation, and help them to come up with tools for discussion if they find themselves on either side of the fence.

What are some of the suggestions you have for parents of teens, or for teens themselves?

The right age for cell phones

After much thought and deliberation, and even more pleading on my daughter’s part, this last year I caved and bought my (then) nearly 12 year old daughter a cell phone. It came down to this: as her independence grew, I needed a way to contact her at all times, and a way for her to contact me should she need anything. And while I now grumble over my nearly doubled phone bill, and the fact that she is more than likely to be hunched over it texting (thank goodness for unlimited texting plans) rather than making emergency phone calls, I am still of the opinion that I made the right decision. It has been a lifesaver when I’ve had to pick her up from school. I can simply text her and let her know where I am parked. And when she is at her dad’s house, we are still able to communicate through a quick text or phone call. And since she is now able to stay home on her own when I need her to, it’s comforting to know that she is only a phone call away.

Apparently I’m not alone in this decision about whether the age of 12 is old enough for a cell phone. In a study done just last year, 58% of 12 year olds now own a cell phone, a sharp rise from only 18% in 2004. Referred to as the iGen (or whatever they are planning on calling this group of technologically advanced youngsters), kids 12 and younger seem to have an advanced understanding of the internet and all things electronic. With the starting age of cell phone users getting younger and younger, it makes sense. After all, they were born into an era when everything seems to be centered on technology. And with the influx of smart phones, this truth has only been magnified. I read recently that teens spend about 7 hours a day on the internet. School takes up a good majority of their day, so it’s safe to say that the rest of their time is spent on the net. Knowing how my iPhone has been both a blessing and a curse for being able to peruse the web any time I want, I’m certain that this is the also the reason for the rise in internet usage among the younger generation. Note: While my daughter owns a simple smart phone to make texting easier, I have headed off the internet usage (and thereby, the internet charges) by simply rerouting her network on her phone so that it dials up an imaginary network – bringing her to an error page rather than anything on the net. Another option with many companies is to set limits on your child’s phone if you don’t wish them to connect to the internet, or to rack up hundreds of dollars in 10 cent texts that mostly consist of “lol”.  kk?

But, as many parents still wonder, is 12 still too young to be connected at the hip 24/7? And being that I’ve even seen kids as young as 5 with their own cell phones, as well as parents of 14 year olds who believe their child is still too young for that kind of responsibility, it makes me wonder – when is the right age to carry a cell phone? And besides making phone calls, should a kid’s cell phone also be able to connect to the internet?

Tweens and Privacy

A mom I know recently told me the story of her daughter and herself. As a single mom of just one girl, the two were incredibly close. My friend relied on her daughter to help out around the house and take care of her own responsibilities. And she was never disappointed. The two worked as a team to get dinner on the table, keep the house straight, and that all homework was done promptly and turned in on time. The two spent a lot of time together outside of school and work. The daughter talked often with her mom about problems she was having at school or with friends, when she thought a particular boy was cute – pretty much anything that crossed her mind. Jr. High came, which meant a new schedule at a new school, and new friends to meet. It’s interesting, things didn’t change overnight, as my friend remembers. But they did change rapidly. Her once sweet and kind daughter suddenly became sullen and angry. She stopped helping so much around the house. And the biggest change?

She stopped talking to her mother.

The daughter’s phone would buzz, and much like my own daughter recently, she would hunch over her phone so no one would see what she was typing to the mysterious receiver. My friend no longer had any idea who her daughter’s friends were, and if she asked she was dismissed by her daughter without any information given. Simple rules she was giving her daughter – from finishing household chores to being home right after school – were being broken right and left as her daughter stretched the boundaries to the limit.

My friend was at a loss. She didn’t know this girl anymore. As a working mom, she couldn’t be home to monitor everything that was going on in her own home, and she was starting to wonder if there might be things, now or in the near future, that she needed to be concerned about. So she did the only thing that she could think of. She took her daughter’s phone that night and read through every single one of her texts.  What she found only made her feel bad.

She found…nothing.

The texts back and forth were basically one word texts, obviously just their way of staying in touch even in a minimal way. Some were with girls, some were with boys. There was no talk about drugs, or sex, or sneaking out, or anything that might be cause for alarm. My friend even found out through one of the text conversations that her daughter hadn’t even experienced her first kiss. Basically, even though her daughter had experienced a major attitude adjustment in the past few months and was no longer her mom’s little buddy, she was still the good girl that her mother had raised. And she had just violated her daughter’s trust by snooping through her phone when her daughter wasn’t even guilty of anything wrong.

Yet.

What is your take on tween privacy? As the parent of a minor, is it ok to check up on them through their Facebook, cell phone, or some other means just to ensure that they aren’t doing anything illegal or dangerous? Or is this kind of snooping a total infringement on a tween’s rights to privacy? Do you “snoop”? Or is this a violation of your tween’s trust?

Take part in Santa Rosa Mom’s March Challenge!  See forum for details.

Texting Queen

My daughter sat on the couch, her phone never leaving her side. Every now and then it would vibrate. Like clockwork, she would flip it open, read it, then send back a quick reply. This wasn’t just going on for a short time, this had been going on all day long. I asked her who she was texting, and after many retorts of how little business it was of mine, she finally told me it was a boy at her school. The fact that she was texting a boy was not alarming. Most of her friends are guys, and she and one of her longest known guy friends texted each other often. Most of their texts consisted of “Sup”, or “LOL”, or “My brother’s a dweeb”. Nothing to write home about. And definitely nothing that raised my eyebrows (except to roll my eyes at how lame it was). But this was different, this was a boy I had never heard of. And with the way they were texting each other for hours on end, it was obvious that this was not just some friend.

This had to be a boyfriend.

Of course, she denied it. Nevermind that she had been hunched over the keypad of that phone all night. Nevermind that she had been guarding it so that no one saw what she had been texting. Nevermind the silly grin that was escaping from her usually blank stare when nothing that amusing was going on in real life.

“Come on DQ,” I said. “Admit it. He’s your boyfriend.”

“He’s not my boyfriend!” she exclaimed.

“Why don’t you just call him?” Mr. W asked her as she furiously typed in some letters and hit send.

“Talking on the phone is so old-fashioned,” she explained to us ignorant old fogies. “Besides, you can’t take back words when you say them, but you can always hit delete before you send a text.”

My daughter has played the love game before.  The experimentation with adult things like love is a common game in the elementary years. Two kids decide they like each other. They decide to “go out”. They might talk occasionally while at school, but more likely than not they’ll avoid each other like the plague. The relationship might last a long two or three days, or go for even longer by lasting a couple weeks. Then one member of this coupledom will decide that they actually have a crush on someone else they hadn’t really noticed before (usually after the crushee expresses interest), and the relationship ends.

“DQ” has had boyfriends, but somehow, now it’s different. She’s 12, almost in Jr. High.  Having a boyfriend is getting closer and closer (if it’s not here already) to extending past ignoring each other and the occasional awkward glances.  It’s a little nervewracking to even think about.  Not only that, kids are more available to each other now, and DQ is no different.  Why?  Because now she has a phone.

Giving her a phone was not a choice I took lightly. I had been hemming and hawing over it for well over a year. It was true that many of her classmates were now getting phones, but I was not about to let that be my deciding factor. If her classmates were all getting Shetland Ponies, our imaginary corral would still be empty. The decision was solely based on how available I needed her to be. And because she was old enough to be staying home alone, and because I needed to be able to reach her when she was waiting to be picked up or over at her father’s house, I finally came to the decision that a phone was a necessity.

When she got her phone, ground rules were set up. Phone curfew was at 9 pm sharp. (Side note here. This was a rule my parents set up for my sisters and me when we were kids regarding the old-fashioned rotary telephone. Of course, it was lame. I mean, who goes to bed at 9 pm? Now I know. What parent wants their phone ringing at all hours of the night? 9 pm is a PERFECT cut off point.) At 9 pm, the phone is to be turned off and plugged in to charge. During school hours, the phone stays off. Talking time on the phone was ordered to be kept to a minimum, since I was not about to raise my minutes on our shared plan. And there was not to be any internet access at all on the phone (something I made sure of with my nerdish technical capabilities of disarming them). If she broke any of these rules, the phone would be confiscated – no questions asked. But to be realistic, I was allowing her unlimited texting (before 9 pm, of course). After all, she was a tween.

DQ has been really good about following these rules. Every night she plugs in the phone, and every morning she goes through it to see what she’s missed. The phone has basically become an extension of herself, and the best way for her to keep in touch with her friends outside of school. But best of all, it has made it incredibly convenient for me to be able to locate her when she texts me from a friend’s house, or when I’m searching through a crowd of students when picking her up at school.

On the day in question, the phone never left her lap. We watched some Survivor, and she glanced at the TV in between a fast typing conversation. The show ended and I instructed her to plug it in before bed. I went to kiss her goodnight, and she was being a little jumpy.

“Where’s your phone?” I asked her.

“It’s downstairs, plugged in, just like you asked me to do,” she answered matter-of-factly.

I wasn’t buying it.

“Alright, where? I’m going to go check,” I said, looking her straight in the eye.

“Go ahead,” she countered, challenging my threat, her gaze never leaving mine.  (Seriously, cue some Good, Bad, and the Ugly music here)

“Alright,” I said, and started to leave the room.

“Wait Mom!” she called. I turned and smiled, holding out my hand. She sheepishly went into her backpack and pulled out the lime green instrument.

“Good thing you caught me,” I told her. “You almost lost your phone.”

The next day I wouldn’t let her have her phone back until after church. I admit it, it was to torture her. I knew that she was waiting to get that phone back with baited breath to find out if her “just a friend” had texted her back. She finally did get it back, and away she went to leave the real world and enter the land of “LOLs” and “BRBs”. We were leaving the grocery store and on our way home when I drilled her again.

“I don’t know why you don’t just admit it,” I said. “Obviously he’s your boyfriend. I wasn’t just born yesterday.”

“Mom, he’s not my boyfriend. He’s just a friend.” And she hunched back over her keypad. We were just entering our complex when my phone dinged. I checked to see who had sent me a text. It was from DQ.

“I’m pretty sure my mom figured it out.”

With the advances of technology, you can send a friend a note in seconds flat. You can tell them you’ll be late meeting them. You can let them know you are thinking of them. You can find out what they are wearing to the latest party, or if that person you were avoiding happens to be there. Or you can hit the wrong button and send a text that was meant for your BOYFRIEND accidentally to your own mother.

Yes folks, the jig is up. And the only thing I can do with this little snafu is place it in the giant book of AWESOME.