Sixty-three percent of parents who use text messaging believe that it improves their communication with their children, according to a recent Cingular survey on text messaging and parents conducted by Mediathink. In addition, 65 percent of parents who text message say they communicate more frequently with their children when they are away from home and 64 percent said that texting made their kids easier to reach.
Cingular has teamed with clinical psychologist and parenting expert Dr. Ruth Peters to develop "TXT2CONNECT - A Parent's Text Tutorial." The tutorial provides parents with tips from Dr. Peters on how to better communicate with their kids via text messaging and to understand popular text messaging lingo.
"Wireless phones and text messaging have become a central force in the way tweens and teens connect with one another," said Dr. Ruth Peters. "Kids want to communicate -- but on their terms. Parents who are in vogue with the text messaging trend can stay in better touch with their kids and connect with them on their level and in a more meaningful way."
The survey indicated that nearly half of parents who use text messaging were taught to do so by their children. Forty-five percent of parents who text message said they are most likely to send a text message to their child on weekends when they are out with their friends. Sixty-nine percent of parents who text said they use text jargon, such as "R U Home" or "BGood" when communicating with their kids via text messaging.
According to Dr. Peters, text messaging is a great option for parents and kids to stay in touch because:
Parents get a quick answer to their questions. This is good for today's busy kids, who are often in between school and extra-curricular activities or hanging out with friends, and might not, or in some cases can't, take the time for a normal conversation.
Kids are more apt to respond to text messages when they are with their friends. It is more discreet and their answers don't have to be as detailed as in a conversation.
You, or they, don't have to worry about tone of voice. Some kids tend to become defensive when they hear their parent's tone of voice, which often results in delayed return phone calls or avoidance. Texting helps to take tone of voice and misinterpretation out of the mix and can improve response times.
Texting allows you to enter your child's world. By using text messaging, parents can communicate in the style their children are used to, and become more hip in their children's eyes. An example might be a parent who sends a text to her daughter on a blind date to ask her how the date is going. "Is he Mr. Wonderful?" or "Is he a frog or a prince?"
Text messaging allows parents to compose and edit a message before pressing send. If emotion surrounds an issue, Dr. Peters often counsels parents to write things out before actually saying them to their kids to help edit their thoughts. By making parents think about it more, texting removes explosive emotions from potentially charged communications and situations.
Texting vs. calling gives kids more space but allows parents to keep in touch as often as necessary. For instance, it is a good way to double check their child's whereabouts without nagging.
Text messaging can also be used to strengthen parent-child bonds, and let kids know that their parents are thinking of them. Send them a text wishing them good luck before the school play audition, or let them know you are thinking of them if there is something they were concerned about such as a difficult test or a grade.