Parents worry about their kids sexting, about bullying, but aren’t always aware of a seemingly more benign teen issue: total drama world. Think back to middle school and junior high. There were conflicts between friends over boys, clothes, and other friends, there was competition to be on the cheerleading squad or the sports team. There was a lot of drama. The difference between the stone ages that all parents are accused of living in, and now is one thing: texting. Instead of walking away, letting go and preoccupying themselves with something other than conflict, today’s texting teens are fully engaged and embroiled in a hell of their own making.
Not only does constant texting turn teens into reactive rather than proactive people, it may also be bad for their health according to The New York Times . The endless stream of texts is making teens more indecisive and affecting their sleep.
How to Help Teens Leave Total Drama World Behind
Limit texting – Homework first, texting later. Texting should be treated the same way as TV watching, video game playing and Facebooking.
Unplug at bedtime – It’s not really enough to just tell teens to unplug, you have to limit the temptation of breaking the rules. Keep all phone chargers in a common area in the house, outside of the bedrooms.
Encourage kids to get and stay involved – From sports to drama club or playing in a neighborhood band, kids should stay socially involved and engaged. Set rules about not texting during family dinner time or while at formal family functions.
Work on direct communication – Excessive texting breeds teens who stumble through face-to-face communication. They’re so used to indirect communication that they can’t always decipher other communication cues including tone of voice, facial expressions and body language.
Reality check – Remind teens never to post or text anything they wouldn’t say to someone’s face. Let them know what they post should be appropriate enough for both their grandparents or younger siblings.
Don’t believe the hype – This is for parents and teens. Help the teens detach from the constant texting and teach them to walk away. Just as you would teach someone to walk away rather than say something in anger, sometimes the most productive and healthiest thing for the teen to do is to walk away from the online conversation that’s causing angst.
Parents, don’t believe that your teen’s world will really come crashing. down and they’ll be forever doomed as a social pariah if they start texting less. They will be fine. They don’t need to be in constant, 24-7 contact with their friends. It’s not the end of the world if they miss what he said, what she said, and everything in between.
Privilege of texting – Remember, texting, like driving, is a privilege, and not a right. Plus, it’s one you probably pay for. It can be used as a bargaining chip. If you want your teen’s attention or the threat of grounding is falling on deaf ears, take away texting privileges and let the teen earn them back.
If the drama and angst caused by constant texting is having a negative effect on your teen’s life, school work or emotional state, it may be time to block the texting service on your plan.