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Teens and Texting

I’ve had many teens come in and say “My friends venting to me is stressing me out. They tell me before the event, on the way to the event, and when they are home from the event how stressed they are!”

While I don’t believe parents should invade the privacy of their kid’s texts unless they have a safety issue, I do think you need to monitor their mental health with regard to constant messaging.

Are they feeling pressured to respond to their friend’s every whim and need?

Some ideas are teaching them to wait an hour before responding or even putting certain people on “do not disturb” for a period of time. Another idea is to practice having your teen say “I can’t talk now but I’ll be back later.”

These ideas may never have occurred to them. They might think it’s rude to not respond right away. Since texting is a newer phenomenon, the etiquette books really haven’t been written on this one.

Here’s what I tell the teens I work with:

  1. You don’t have to respond right away.
  2. You can teach kids to start asking their friends and having their friends ask them, “Are you available right now for me to chat about a specific thing?”
  3. You can set a time limit: “I can talk for ten minutes then I have to go.”
  4. You can teach them to remove themselves from certain group chats and online forums.
  5. You can have them turn off the notifications.
  6. You can take the phone at 9pm each night and give it back in the morning.
  7. You could also hold the phone until homework is done each evening (they don’t like these last two suggestions).

Additionally, it’s good to remember texting really isn’t the greatest way to communicate because you can’t read the flavor of a text message. I encourage people to actually speak on the phone or FaceTime when something significant is being discussed.

Thanks for reading!

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Free Clear Mind Therapy provides in-person therapy in Fishers & Indianapolis and online therapy across Indiana. Specializing in anxiety therapy for teens, adults, and kids.

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