Monday, November 22, 2010

And Now Many Words From My Resident Texting Experts - and continued chances to win a gift certificate for yourself

This is sponsored content from BlogHer and LG Text Ed


I was thrilled with the number and quality of questions you all submitted for me to ask my kids regarding teens and texting. I had so many wonderful ones to choose from - let's get right to it. I divided the questions up and sent some of them to each of my kids by email. I decided writing the answers would probably lead to a more relaxed and possibly a more honest approach. I didn't want them sitting there deciding how mom wanted them to respond. Also, these are their answers as written. I only corrected capitalization and (far too many) misspellings.

General phone and texting use
Q:
How many text messages do you get a day approximately?
19 year old son: I get around 50 texts a day depending on the day of the week. Weekends are probably a little higher.

Q: Do you & your friends prefer talking or texting more?
19 year old son: I think texting has its uses. It's a very convenient way to quickly ask someone a question. I tend to make few phone calls, but only because I go talk to people face to face. So all in all, we prefer to talk, but we text as well.

Q: Do you share your number with everyone or only people you know well?
19 year old son: Only people I know well.
13 year old son:If I think they would just annoy me I don't.

Q: Would you be offended if your parents wanted to look and see who you were texting and who was texting you.
16 year old son: Yes. While I have nothing to hide, my cell phone is my personal property. To inspect it would be a gesture of distrust. However, if there was legitimate concern over who I was texting or who was texting me, I would gladly hand over my phone.
13 year old son:YNot at all. I don't report stuff to my parents, but hypothetically they could check my phone whenever they wanted.

Q: Do you have any restrictions with your phone? Are there hours of the day you are not allowed to use it?
16 year old son: Yes. Any time between 10 P.M. and 7 A.M. is restricted. Also, I cannot access the internet or use games with my phone; this is to prevent it becoming a distraction.

Q: What parameters did your parents give you when you got your cell phone?
19 year old daughter:No usage at night, I didn't have texting when I first got a phone. I didn't use it when we had company or I was visiting someone.

Q: Do any of your friends not have a cell phone?
16 year old son: No. Cell phones have saturated my generation entirely; they're considered a basic resource.

Q: Have your parents actually talked to you about your use of the cell phone?
16 year old son: Yes, when it was first purchased. We talked about what services I could or couldn't use on the phone.

Q: Why do kids text instead of just call?
16 year old son: Texting is more casual, used to communicate brief messages. One can also text while working on something else. Many teens use texting to communicate during school hours, when a silenced text can be sent and received without the notice created by a phone conversation.

Q: How open do you feel you can be with your parents regarding your texting habits?
16 year old son:If it ever became a concern, I would be very open. But as I mainly use texting as a social utility, it doesn't come up much in conversation.

Q: Is texting common at your school?
16 year old son:Extremely. Everyone I know owns a phone with texting.

Texting and driving, sexting, etc.
Q: I recently heard on television about a study that said "teens who text a lot are more likely to be involved in teen sex and/or drugs." What are your teens thoughts on this study?

19 year old son: I think that survey wouldn't hold true for college students. In college texting is mainly used as a social network. As with facebook, I think almost everyone in college texts, regardless of their beliefs on sex and drugs. I would imagine that in younger teens this survey could very well be a true statement.

Q:How prevalent is sexting, truly?
19 year old son: I think sexting is a joke. Or maybe I only know classy people. I have never heard of anyone sexting.
16 year old son: It's uncommon, but it does happen. I've only heard about people who did it once or twice.

Q: How many of their friends text and drive?
19 year old son: A good few of my friends text and drive. I try to stop it when I see it though. I honestly never text and drive
19 year old daughter:Only one. Needless to say, I do not ride with him.

Q: Ask your kids if they text when driving? Or if they'd admit to it if they did.
19 year old daughter:
I don't text while I drive.

Q: I believe that the only way an individual can protect themselves or others from harm while driving and texting is to impose some sort of restrictions on themselves, such as turning off their phones. Do your children that drive take any precautions while driving? And not something from you or your husband, but something they do for themselves each time they get in the car?
19 year old daughter:I usually turn mine on silent while driving.

Q:I'd like to know if any teachers or counselors actually DO caution kids about any of these subjects.ear old son.
19 year old son: Oh yeah. But people don't really care.

Q: Have they been informed about the statistics of kids killed while texting and driving?
19 year old son: Maybe. Our generation is bombarded with statistics though. I'm sure most of us have heard it but couldn't tell you a number anywhere near the correct statistic.

Q: And what about sexting? Do they know the laws on that, and consequences should those laws be broken?
19 year old son: No. I didn't know it was illegal. I just thought it was perverse.

Bullying
Q: How do you define bullying when it comes to texting or other social media? Have you ever encountered any texts that you perceived as an attempt to bully or pressure you in some way?

16 year old son: Bullying while texting would be sending slurs or insults--the same sort of bullying happens online. I haven't encountered text-bullying, and I haven't heard about it from others.

Q: I would love if you could ask your kids if they have ever been bullied through a text message or know anyone who has? I've heard that this is getting more prevalent (the bully doesn't even need to face the person that they are attacking) and I would love to know if they have any advice for teens who find themselves being bullied by text.
19 year old daughter:I don't recall ever being bullied, but I didn't start texting until I was 18, and I'd like to think that by that age, most bullies have grown up a little. My best advice is just to ignore it because if the bully doesn't get the satisfaction of you reacting, he/she will most likely give it a rest.
13 year old son:I personally haven't, nor do I know anyone who has.

Q: Ask your 13 and 16 year-olds if bullying by text is an issue at their schools. If it is, what has the school done about it?
13 year old son: I don't think it is. The school has a very active anti cyber-bullying program and I think that helps prevent Students bullying by text. Also, people can't bully you if you don't give them your number

Texting in school
Q: Are kids texting in school to cheat on tests?
16 year old son:Yes, often. I've heard about students using a couple methods. First, some students send each other information about questions by using a phone under their desks or asking to be excused and texting in the hall. Secondly, it is possible to text Google or other online services a question and receive the answer within moments; from what I've heard, this is especially useful during vocabulary or math tests.

Q: How strict are the teachers about kids accessing their cell phones during class or between classes, and do kids sneak texts in anyway?
19 year old daughter:It depends on the teacher. I have one who will take a letter grade off your final grade if you text. It still happens, though.
13 year old son:
There's a school-wide policy that you cannot have you phone out during the day, but it basically varies by the teacher. Most are pretty strict, but at the very end of the school day some don't care very much if you have it out. People will text during the day at their lockers sometimes. It's obvious when the girls are texting down in their purses.

Have you had a conversation with your kids (or nephews/nieces, grandchildren) about texting, sexting and safety? BlogHer is matching LG’s donation of .50 to dosomething.org for every comment on this post, so please tell me about your conversation with your kids in the comments. Or if you haven’t had the conversation yet, what’s holding you back? Maybe another reader will have the perfect suggestion for how you can get your conversation going. It’s important for all our families, and dosomething.org will get a $1.00 for every comment, question or suggestion.

In addition, each comment left on this post will be eligible to win a $25 gift certificate to the merchandiser of your choice. I will draw the winner from the comments on this post as well as the previous post using random.org or Monday, November 29. So, let's keep the discussion going.


(I added the comments on this post to the previous post and then allowed random.org to select our winner for the gift certificate. Comment #13 on the previous post, Fragrant Liar, is the lucky winner. The giveaway is now closed but please continue to leave me your comments and insights.)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Initiating Conversation about Teens and Texting (with donations to DoSomething.org and a gift certificate for you)

This is sponsored content from BlogHer and LG Text Ed

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about teens and texting on this blog. Many of you submitted thoughtful comments. Several bloggers had been asked by BlogHer and LG to write about this subject. Technology is pervasive and invasive in our lives and our teens' lives and as parents, we do ourselves and our kids a disservice by not realizing that the world we are raising our children in is absolutely not the same world from our youth. As far as technology goes, I believe my parents limited how late I could stay up watching television but Happy Days or Mork and Mindy on one of the "big three" networks was about as risque as it got. Movie theatres carded you if you were under 18 and tried to get into an R movie. And my parents freaked out when I came home with an AC/DC album. That is pretty much the extent of technology during my teen years.

My parents didn't have to talk to me about talking on a phone or texting while driving, sexting was not in the dictionary back then, pocket sized cameras on cellphones in locker rooms was something we could only imagine from an episode of Star Trek, and while bullying has always been around - only technology could have taken it to the level it is today.

Today's parents find ourselves in the situation of needing to have another talk with our kids. The online and cell phone talk. And, just like the sex talk, this is one where by the time we get around to discussing some of these vital issues with our kids, they've already had more experience in these areas than we'd care to think about. It's an important talk. It's actually a series of important conversations we need to have with our children over a protracted period of time.

Because this topic is so important for our kids and their futures, BlogHer wants to get the conversation about texting, sexting, and safety going - both with our kids and among parents. To do so, BlogHer has once again asked a group of bloggers to post about this issue. But we are doing it with a twist this time.

Allow me to introduce my kids. I have a 13 year old son, a 16 year old son, a 19 year old daughter and a 19 year old son. They all text. They all have camera enabled cell phones. Three of them drive. This technology has been part of their lives for years and will continue to be part of their lives.

I'd like to ask my kids some questions on this blog and then post their answers. Have an online conversation about these critical issues. I need some help though. I need you all to submit questions you'd like me to ask my kids. Would you like to ask any of them a question about texting? About cell phone use? How about bullying, sexting, or technology at school? Questions about teens and texting while driving? For each comment you leave on this post, BlogHer and LG will each give a .50 donation to dosomething.org, so please give me your suggestions for questions for my kids. Dosomething.org will get a $1.00 donation for each and every one.

Ask away. I'll pass the question along to the teen you'd like me to ask, or the one I think can address the question best. Two weeks from now, I'll publish your questions and my kids' answers. I think it will be very interesting to hear what their view is on these subjects as well.

You might want to read the other posts about teens and texting which can be found at BlogHer.
LG has a great site that includes fabulous resources for parents about texting (including deciphering that shorthand they use).
You can check out Jane Lynch's video on this subject here.

As an added incentive, I am personally going to give one commenter a $25 gift certificate to the merchandiser of their choice. I'll draw this randomly from all the comments on this post and a followup post I'll be doing in two weeks. This gift certificate will be purchased by me personally and I will receive nothing in return from any merchandiser. You don't have to do a thing except leave me a thoughtful comment with a question for my kids or enter the discussion in the comments about parenting, teens and texting.


(Random.org selected comment #13, Fragrant Liar, as our giveaway winner. The giveaway is now closed but I'd love to hear any further comments you'd like to leave.)