An Open Letter to my Kids about Texting
I wrote this letter over 2 years ago, in January of 2014 on the brink of my oldest daughter’s purchase of her first iPod. I wanted to record a few of my hopes and thoughts about the “world of texting” that I knew we were about to navigate.
Two years later, it is interesting to note that my priorities and hopes for our journey have not changed though I am much more comfortable with this modern form of communication. We took the plunge and have navigated all sorts of forms of texting and social media these last 2 years. Without a doubt, these forms of communication have enhanced relationships within our family and have created positive impacts on my kids relationship with the world around them and their friends outside of our home. It hasn’t always been easy or straight forward to know what to do, but we keep working on it together.
I think I will read them this letter tomorrow and see how they think we have done with our priorities.
You are growing up so quickly and I have no doubt that I will blink and you will be teenagers, navigating the world of text.
Twitter. Facebook. Email. Blogs. SnapChat. Instagram. Text Messaging.
And everything else “they” come up with in the next few years.
Instant text will be a significant method of communication and somehow I have to help you navigate this world of text. Admittedly, aspects of this frighten me.
Because text is dead. It lacks tone and emotion. There isn’t body language or facial expression. Yet, it is a primary method of communicating these days.
And let me teach you right now that cute little emoticons at the end of very nasty words don’t make them friendly, funny, or nice.
Seriously. Remember that!
And remember that whether you like it or not, your text reflects YOU.
Yes. Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, and all of these cute ways to share and communicate are reflections of YOU. They are not the entire you, but they reflect your values, likes, choices, and life. And they often are avenues to communicate with folks who may not really KNOW you.
And once you put something “out there”, you can’t take it back. Sometimes there are serious consequences to your writing in worldwide text. We must guard what we communicate and that is tough in the world of instant “sharing”.
So we will practice. And we will mess up. Together.
Yes. I, too, have learned some lessons in this area.
And while text might be a handy form of communication, it is not the primary form I want you to have!
I want you to learn to value the company in front of you without hopping on a smart phone to see what other folks are up to. And to know you are worth face to face conversation that disconnects from everyone else around.
That means we don’t have to answer texts instantly. Truly. I don’t. You don’t. It is OK to wait for an appropriate moment.
And I am strongly suggesting you don’t have a second date one day with someone who seems more interested in their phone than in you.
I hope we remember that being present in a moment is more important than sharing a picture of that moment.
I don’t care how many likes the picture might get. It doesn’t matter how many likes you get if you find yourself constantly distracted from your own life.
It is my hope that we always make time to turn off the phones, close the laptops, stow away the tablets and declare a space and time that is not shared with anyone who isn’t present. A time where we ignore the bings and the beeps and the buzzes of those who might steal our moments as we work together to protect them.
I hope to teach you that sometimes you should pick up a phone and talk. Your inner circle of family and friends should laugh with you and cry with you absent of emoticons. You can hear stress in a person’s voice that you can’t hear in their email. Issues sometimes need to be resolved in a manner that requires voice or face to face contact. Hurts can be healed more effectively with a conversation and a hug then with a smiley face text.
Other times, text will be the fastest, easiest, and most efficient form of communication. Use it.
But always remember that real relationships aren’t usually fast, easy or efficient. They take time, energy, and effort.
They are always worth it.
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Mary, this is so wonderful. And I especially love that you’re giving us the two-years-later perspective. It’s so helpful to hear from a mama who is a few years ahead of me on this journey. Your insights have helped me to de-freak a bit. 😉
Happy to do so. I enjoyed finding the old post! Looking back is one of my favorite things about blogging.