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Teenage Relationships in the Age of Texting
In a recent post about friendships, one commenter asked what was going to happen to teens, who spend their lives on social media sites but don't actually interact in person very much.

It's something I'm concerned about, too. I see so many teens that I know relating to other teens solely on the basis of technology. Many teen boys now have sleepovers with multiple TVs and Playstations so they can play Call of Duty together. Girls spend their lives on Facebook writing back and forth. I've been in groups of teens where everybody is texting--each other! Rather than just talking, they're clicking. It's strange.

We at least escaped much of this until we were adults. I spend far too much time on Facebook, etc., and I'm the first to admit it. But I do have real friends. And my husband and I got to know each other the old-fashioned way: we talked face to face. We didn't have to add smiley faces to the ends of sentences because we were there in person, and we could read each other's expressions.

Now it seems like so many relationships exist primarily online. People start dating online, and the world knows about it because their Facebook info changes. I know one guy who realized his wife was leaving him when her status changed from "Married" to "Single".

The internet has its benefits, but it's also changing how we relate. We talk in 140 characters, rather than in real sentences. We don't know how to look someone in the face. And even at university, where you would think the goal was to find a life partner, stats show that sexual activity is actually down because more people are simply using porn. When they're not, they're "hooking up", so that serious relationships in university are getting rarer. When I was in college, everybody was seeking out their mates, and many of us found them there. Today that's becoming increasingly difficult because real relationships aren't happening.

I was talking to a friend of mine, the mom of 4, about this and she dismissed it. Her sons, who are in their late teens, know how to have real relationships, even though they text all the time. But I pointed out to her that she and her family eat dinner together every single night. They grew up learning how to talk to one another, and so it's already natural.

What about all those teens who do not grow up talking around the dinner table? What about the majority of kids who don't have dinner with their parents, who rarely talk to their parents, and who are living in an almost entirely online world? Will they know how to share their thoughts? How to talk? How to get to know someone in real life?

There's so much in our society working against marriage and strong relationships. Pornography pulls us apart, and makes an intimate sex life much more difficult to achieve because so many are battling images they can't seem to get out of their heads, or addictions they can't seem to break. All around us are messages that we should do what makes us happy, and not necessarily what we have committed to. And now we have added to all that the takeover of the friendship realm by computer. I'm not sure what that means, but I'm not looking forward to seeing the results.

So what do you do in your house to make sure that your kids know how to live in the real world? Let's talk about it!

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8 Comments:

At 9:22 AM , Blogger Terry @ Breathing Grace said…

Honestly? I think parents are to blame for this. My kids have cell phones, but we deliberately got phones without a texting feature. Well, they can text us or one another in a pinch, but it costs per message and since we ay the bill and have access to their messages, they simply say what they have to say to their friends face to face or on the phone.

I am always amazed when parents get their kids unlimited texting phones or put a computer in their room. Why ever would we do that??!!

We also eat dinner together every night as a family.Wealso have too many kids for anyone tohave their own room. When someone needs a bit of space,they jump on their bike, sit on the patio,or even grab their mp3and sit on the swingset.

But by and large,learning to relate to others is a must in our house.

 

At 11:38 AM , Blogger Sheila said…

Terry,

I hear you. I think parents are to blame, too.

But here's my problem: I want my girls to have friends they can converse with intelligently. I want them to find young men to eventually marry who know how to carry on a conversation and have a relationship.

And it just seems to me that these things will be in increasingly short supply. I suppose like always finds like, and so I shouldn't worry about my girls, because they'll find those like them, but I just worry about society as a whole, and I don't know what to do about it!

 

At 11:56 AM , Blogger Sheri said…

Well we have texting blocked.
There are computer limits per day.
We try to have a lot of family time.

We do not eat dinner together every night, namely because I work nights. Mike tries to sit them all at the table but it just doesn't usually happen except on my nights off (4 nights a week).

 

At 12:18 PM , Blogger Kaye Butler said…

We have cell phones with unlimited texting. I love texting my girls during the school day and yes I am breaking the rules by letting them take them to school...why...too much can happen at school or on the way home. If I don't txt my oldest during the morning...I get a mad txt "where and what have you been doing? U haven't txted me all morning!"

We do have limits. No phones or ipods during dinner, no phones or ipods if we have company, and we have a lot of company! We talk, talk, talk, to each other.

My girls have their friends over a lot and the same rule applies to them...no phones. All their mothers have my number if they need them, they call me!

We also put the phones up for the night at 9:30, in my room, not theirs.

Now, Im not saying it always works perfectly, we do have some melt downs if a certain boy hasn't txted or called by the 9:30 rule...but we stick to it and they learn.

Actually, we had a 15 year old melt down, laying in the floor bawling til she couldn't breath because i was ruining her life with my rules episode last night...but she's still breathing this morning...its all good...LOL

 

At 6:49 PM , Anonymous Quiet-Mom said…

Terry I think you hit the nail on the head... have the ability to text but make the kids pay for it. That way they have the feature for the benefits it can bring but does not get abused like we're seeing.

My husband works in the cell phone industry and carries 8-10 phones with him at all times yet my two teen girls don't have one unless they need to borrow one for some special reason. They don't have need for them. They do email but have chosen to limit that on their own because of the heart to hearts we've had over the issue and actually prefer old fashioned (gasp) letter writing over email any day!

Me too actually. I love the way I can get things done quickly with email but recently started letter writing with a far away friend and it's created a whole new depth to our friendship. Our phone conversations are much sweeter because of it too! Something about the effort, time, feeling and personal-ness of a handwritten letter ... I'm going to do more of it.

Dinner together - YES! I think that should be mandatory in this day and age and with NO phones or computers at the table (I feel a rant coming on... I'll hold back).

I'm finding this is a huge issue - in our church, community and more. It saddens me that this is the norm. People just don't "know" each other anymore.

Sigh... I better go journal... lol! :) And then set up a tea date with a friend.

p.s. on the positive side, texting has been a wonderful thing for hubs and I when he's traveling - although I do miss the actual phone call every day, when there's a huge time difference it's been somewhat of a lifeline.

 

At 11:03 PM , Blogger Nurse Bee said…

My husband and I met online (yes, through a dating service) and we did email a fair amount for a while since we lived 200 miles apart. But we also spent a lot of time in person and had a regular dating period, engagement, and now a darn good marriage!

Sometimes the internet is good for relationships. It was for me and my husband!

 

At 7:24 AM , Blogger Sheila said…

Nurse Bee--

I hear you! I have three close friends who met their husbands online through a Christian dating service. When you live in a small town, sometimes that's all you can do!

I've even recommended the route to several people.

So I'm not against it per se; it's just that so many kids today are limited in their social relationships only to technological interactions, and I think that's scary!

It is a strange world we live in...

 

At 4:15 PM , Anonymous Quiet-Mom said…

Just saw someone tweeted this report: http://ow.ly/1BAno re how texting is now the primary communication mode for teens:

The opening sentence of the article:
Cell-phone texting has become the preferred channel of basic communication between teens and their friends, with cell calling a close second. Some 75% of 12-17 year-olds now own cell phones, up from 45% in 2004.

 
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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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