Open Letter to my Children about the World of Text

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FLASHBACK POST: This was originally published in 2014 on my former blog. My children were 11, 9, 7, and 5 years old at the time it was written. We continue to navigate the world of text together and it hasn’t been as scary as I thought.

Dear Children,

You are growing up so quickly. 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.

Text is an important method of communication and we rely on it more and more every year. Somehow I have to help you navigate this world and I admit that aspects of guiding you in this new world of text frighten me.

Because text is dead. It lacks tone and emotion. You can see body language or facial expressions. Yet, it is a primary method of communication today.

And let me quickly jump in and mention 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 ways to share and communicate today are reflections of you. They are not the entire you, but they reflect your values, likes, choices, and life. Your online presence communicates information about you to poeple olks 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 communicating in text. We must guard what we communicate and it is tough in the world of instant sharing.

So we will practice. And we will mess up. Together.

Yes. I have already learned some lessons in this area.

And while text is a handy form of communication, it is NOT the primary form I want you to have.

I want you to learn to value the people in front of you without hopping on a smartphone to see what other folks are up to. I want you to know you are worth face to face conversations that don’t have to be announced or shared with everyone else.

That means you aren’t required to answer texts instantly.  Truly.  You aren’t. It is okay to wait for an appropriate moment.

And I am strongly suggesting you don’t accept a second date 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.

Don’t rely soley on text. There are moments in your life when you should pick up a phone and talk or make the effort to gather in person. Your inner circle of family and friends should laugh with you and cry with you in the absense of emoticons.

Stress in a person’s voice can’t always be detected in an email. Certain discussions need to take place in person or over the phone, not text.  Hurts usually heal more easily in conversation than with a smiley face text.

Other times, a 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.

It is always worth it.

This part of a series of Flashback Friday Posts from my former blog. I hope these posts encourage and inspire those of you who are still in the trenches with little ones.

Other Flashback Posts:


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