Raising a Boy: Is Your Son Addicted to Texting?

Are you raising a boy who can’t put the phone down? According to a 2010 Pew research study, 23% of young people between the ages of 12-24 send more than 200 text messages a day. Teens, aged 12-17, send five times more text messages a day than adults, with the average teen sending 50 text messages per day.

Is your son addicted to textingText messaging is the new “normal” communication mode for teens. Much like parent perplexities with teens and telephones back in the 1950’s and 60’s, parents raising a boy sometimes struggle with new technologies. With new brain cells and new thinking patterns emerging, teens will use whatever communication tools available to them in order to take their fresh brains for a test drive.

Can texting cross the line into addiction? How can you recognize addictive texting behavior in your boy?

1. Does he seem to obsess over his cellphone? Does he seem to have a physical need to have his phone with him? Do you spot negative behavior changes when his phone is missing?

2. Does he send more text messages each month than the month before? As a parent, you can monitor this through your paper bill or online account.

3. Does he seem unaffected by any correction or punishment you give him in regards to phone usage?

If you suspect your son may have an addiction to texting, here are a few steps you can take.

1. Model the behavior you want.
How do you use your cell phone or texting device? There is a reason they call these gadgets “crackberries.” Are you able to step away from your technological connections and take breaks as needed? If you are addicted to your own technology, then you, too, need to seek out help. Preaching moderation to your son is useless if your behavior demonstrates your compulsive use of technology.

2. State your concerns.
Remembering that research shows texting is now a normal communication choice for teens, be sure your son knows that you perceive his use to be excessive and that you are concerned. Find informal moments to ask him about his text use. When you see him texting, casually ask him who he’s talking to and why. So that he knows that you understand, talk about any issues you or a family member may have had in breaking free of an obsession in the past.

3. Take the blame.
Your son may be willing to text less but feels that his friends may mock him or tease him about limiting his cell phone use. For some teens, turning off their cell phones is unthinkable. If your son is willing to throttle down his phone use, give him permission to blame you for the reduction. Give him the words to say to his friends, “Oh, my Mom thinks I use the phone too much, so she makes me turn it off after 9 at night.”

4. Be the parent.
Few teens pay for their own cell-phone bills. You have the ability as parent to turn off the service to the cell phone if you have real concerns. Negotiate future behaviors with your son before you reinstate the service. Create a written behavior-contract that both of you sign.

If your teen or tween boy does not yet have a cell phone, think carefully before you give one to him. Not every teen has a cell phone and not every teen needs one. Assess your teen’s maturity level before automatically providing a cell phone for him.

Remember, addiction is not a moral failing. Like most things on the Internet, single articles such as this should not be used to diagnose your teen. If you have a serious concern, then consult with your pediatrician or family therapist.

The author, K. Sean Buvala, is the author of “DaddyTeller” wherein he teaches dads to be a better parents using storytelling with their children. He is the father of four kids, ranging from tween to young adult. Learn more about his book at http://www.daddyteller.com. Photo in this article courtesy of fotolia.com.

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