Why Are Your Kids Texting and Not Talking?

Teen texting
There may be an underlying reason that your teen is texting so much. (Flickr)

Have you ever tried to have a conversation with your child only to be quickly interrupted as they respond to a friend's text? If so, you're not alone.

In the Merrill home, my wife, Susan, and I have had more than a few conversations with our children where one of their friends butts in on our conversation with a text. It can be frustrating, can't it? I'm sure there are many children who have experienced the same thing with their parents.

To be fair, our kids have grown up with technology as a part of their everyday existence. It's almost as if it's part of their DNA. Yes, it is frustrating when they, or we, get too engrossed in phones and seem unattached and unaware of what's around us, but we need to understand what's behind it before we can do something about it.

Before you assume the worst about your non-communicative child or grandchild, consider some of these reasons that may be behind their overuse of phones and other technology:

  • Avoiding awkward situations and conversations: Children avoid awkwardness as much as they can. They often already feel awkward about themselves, their appearance and their place in the world. They may feel a sense of relief if they can avoid such feelings by being heads down on a chat or in a game.
  • Generational comfort in digital communication: People find it so much easier to text than to talk, especially young men. They don't see it automatically as an alternative to face-to-face communication, but simply one of many ways to communicate.
  • ICYMI: ICYMI is an acronym for "In Case You Missed It." It pervades social media and news media today. It's used to trigger curiosity about news, marketing messages and media announcements. But over time, the constant barrage of ICYMI messages creates a bit of anxiety in people, stirring a fear of being out of the loop on what everyone else is talking about and reacting to.
  • FOMO: In addition to viral "news" dominating the ICYMI trends in social media, Fear of Missing Out, or "FOMO", creates a similar social anxiety in young people. Their tech is their connection to the outside world. If they fall behind in what's going on with friends or in those social arenas, they begin to feel like they're falling out of touch with people, causes and interests.

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In my next blog, I'll offer some suggestions about What to Do When Your Kids Are Texting Instead of Talking.

What are some of the other reasons you think your kids, grandkids, most of us struggle with being absorbed in our technology to the detriment of our relationships? Please comment in the section below.

Mark Merrill is the president of Family First. For the original article, visit markmerrill.com.

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