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Teens, Parents and Texting

Updated on October 15, 2012

Becoming A Parent

When you bring home your perfect little baby you stress out, loose lots of sleep, your relationship’s suffer, you change disgusting diapers, they throw up on you, your social life is history, and you’re a constant servant to that baby.

All of those things are completely acceptable because that baby needs you for their survival. There isn’t anything in the world you wouldn’t do to keep them healthy, happy and safe. You are a parent.

Teenagers Need The Same Commitment

That need for your attention and protection doesn't change when kids become teenagers. It is just as important as it was when they were babies.

They need their parents to keep up with them and guide them, while teaching them to stand on their own two feet and become responsible adults.

It can be a lot like walking a tightrope but it's definitely possible and certainly worth it!

Teens still Need Boundaries and Guidence

It is too common for parents to check out of their kids lives when they enter their teen years. There are numerous excuses and justifications like these:

  • It's my turn now that she/he is older
  • I can't watch them every second of everyday (translated means, I don't check into them at all)
  • She said she would run away or hate me if I question her
  • All of the kids her age have expensive cell phones and freedom, it's just the way it is nowadays

Teenagers Aren't Grown Yet

The fact is, if teenagers were mature enough and responsible enough to make good choices on their own, they would be on their own. They are still considered children for a reason.

There are many important lessons they still need to learn and they need your protection and guidance. They deserve every minute of your time, worry, and detective work!

Home Alone

Think twice before leaving them home alone on a regular basis.

It is very common for parents to leave their kids home alone daily after a certain age.

The age varies but not by much. Parents may question:

  • Do they know how to make a snack without burning down the house?
  • Do they know not to let in psycho killers?
  • Do they know to go to the neighbors house in the case of an emergency?

If the answer to these questions is yes, then it is assumed that the teenager is ready to be on their own. Being able to take care of themselves physically is very different than being mature enough to make good choices for themselves.
1-in-4 kids are left unsupervised after school. The most dangerous hours for youth are between 3pm and 6pm. These are peak hours for juvenile crime, drug and alcohol use, and sexual behavior.*

Texting

The way teenagers relate to each other has changed dramatically in the past ten years and parental awareness needs to keep up. That doesn't mean that teenagers have changed, but the way they relate to each other has.

It is easier for boys and girls to express their sexual interests to each other at an earlier age now because they have the anonymity of texting.

It used to be that teenagers wouldn’t have the courage to say certain things to each other or even call each other sometimes because they knew a parent might answer the phone. Nowadays, almost all teens have cell phones so it’s a completely different situation.

Texting has opened up a whole new dialog. They can say whatever they want without “saying” anything at all. These may be just words but it drastically raises the stakes when it comes to their personal interactions.

Sexting

Sexting is texting with sexual content. If your child has their own cell phone they are most likely receiving or sending texts that have a sexual nature.

This doesn’t make the kids or their friends bad people or any thing other than normal teenagers with too much access to technology.

Many parents choose to deny or ignore the possibility because it makes them uncomfortable. It is important that adults aren't naive about sexting because teens may find themselves in situations that they need guidence and support to handle.

The Danger of Pictures

Unfortunately it is all too common for teens to also send X-rated pictures to each other.

No parent on the planet wants to believe that their child would ever do that but, it is very common so it’s someone’s children are doing it.

Inappropriate pictures are a huge concern for many personal and public reasons.

Parents don't want someone looking at their child that way and they don't want their child representing themselves in that way.

Another major concern is that those pictures are rarely seen by only the intended recipient.

One teen sends it to one of their friends to show off and the ball starts rolling. Experience has shown that teenagers can be very fickle when it comes to their personal relationships. Someone who is a best friend or boyfriend one day can be an enemy the next.

When you throw personal inappropriate pictures in the mix they can easily be used as ammo even months later. Not to mention that texts can be traced by the phone company and the internet.

It is imparative that teenagers understands that there is nothing private about texting or picture messages.

Parental Options

It is more important than ever that parents keep themselves updated on the new products and all of their capabilities.

It is possible to disable picture messaging capabilities on cell phones and the technology is growing and changing everyday. Many of the new devices have parental control options.

Boy and Girls

Teenage boys are biologically preoccupied with sex and girls are in constant search of attention and validation from their peers.This has always been the basis for their interaction and it’s totally normal.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the natural desires that both genders have.The problem is, they don't have the maturity necessary to handle the situations these desires can sometimes get them into.

Boys now have a way to tell the girls what they want to do to them or with them without the embarrassment of looking them in the eye. Girls will encourage this and play along even if they don’t intend on acting on it, just to keep the boy texting her and not moving on to someone else. The competition for the attention is fierce. If this isn’t disturbing enough, when they are allowed to be alone hanging out, there will be an expectation to deliver on all the provocative texts.

Gone are the days where a boy has to get the nerve up to say he likes a girl and she is nervously waiting for him to kiss her.The bar has been drastically raised.

The questions parents face are:

  • Can teenagers handle these situation?
  • Should they be expected to?
  • More importantly, can parents make sure they don't have to?

Of course they can!

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    • roxanne459 profile image
      Author

      Roxanne Lewis 5 years ago from Washington

      You are so right! I didn't consider the sex offender angle. Thank you so much for mentioning that. It is probably a natural desire for all parents to believe that their kids wouldn't do such a thing, just like drinking and skipping school etc. but such a naive attitude could have a very high price. I really appreciate your input! :)

    • pmorries profile image

      pmorries 5 years ago from Golden, CO

      You have written a very good hub on an important topic (your truthfulness is refreshing). I have a son in High School and sexting is much more prevalent than people think (even with the less popular kids). I have even had a talk with him about the dangers of sexting (boys could become registered sex offenders). I believe it is a talk that all parents are going to have to start giving along with the drinking, sex, smoking, and drugs speeches. In addition, parents should not assume their kids are not sexting because their teenager is in a church group or does not hang around with that kind of crowd. We have all done things we have regretted while we were younger, but we did not have the internet around to capture our mistakes until "the end of time".

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Thank you for the words of wisdom. I will keep them in mind.

    • roxanne459 profile image
      Author

      Roxanne Lewis 5 years ago from Washington

      jpcmc, I've always found that it's our job to teach them how to be independant instead of fighting it. Reward responsibility with responsibility. The most important part is not to give them more freedom than they can handle at any given stage. That's just setting them up to fail. It destroys thier confidence and your trust. Never let them get into a situation they just aren't ready for. They can't predict what will happen but we can because we have more life experience.

      They depend on us to guide them into adulthood, we don't want to let them down. ;)

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      The introduction of your hub is where I am right now. I know the feeling and I can definitley relate. The succeeding part of your hub is something I need to prepare myself in advance.

      Freedom and limits are very important and i know it can be an uphill battle with teenagers. At this stage they are trying to explore their freedom, while parents try to protect them. As early as now I know I can be an overprotective dad. How do you create a positive and open relationship with your teenage daughter while setting all these limits?

    • roxanne459 profile image
      Author

      Roxanne Lewis 5 years ago from Washington

      Thank you Ciel Clark! :) My 11 year old also has no interest in getting a phone but my 9 year old wants one so bad he can taste it. (not going to happen any time soon)

    • Ciel Clark profile image

      Ciel Clark 5 years ago from USA

      So far my 12-year old son doesn't even want a cell phone, but this hub has some good hints and advice. Thanks!

    • roxanne459 profile image
      Author

      Roxanne Lewis 5 years ago from Washington

      jennty199, you are so right! We do everything we can then let them go and keep our fingers crossed.

    • jenntyl99 profile image

      jenntyl99 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Thanks Roxanne459. As parents we can only hope that the tools and support we give them now will carry them through life later.

    • roxanne459 profile image
      Author

      Roxanne Lewis 5 years ago from Washington

      Good for you jennty1999. Your daughter is very lucky to have you and I have no doubt she will thank you in a million different ways as she grows into an amazing adult! Thank you for sharing ;)

    • jenntyl99 profile image

      jenntyl99 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Great article! I am a parent of a 16 year old daughter and can honestly say that some people think I am strange because I maintain an open relationship with her and want her to talk with me about things that girls normally talk to with their friends. I also make my daughter text me pictures of the places she is going and give me information frequently about her whereabouts. Being a parent today means policing everything your child does to keep them away from dangerous situations, adn also to teach them to make the right choices.

    • roxanne459 profile image
      Author

      Roxanne Lewis 5 years ago from Washington

      Very well put! We are raising adults after all, so lets prepare them the best way we can. Thank you for your insightful input! ;)

    • dragnhaze profile image

      dragnhaze 5 years ago

      Great information about sexting, not many people know about it. I believe the amount of responsibility given really depends on your teen child, how well you know them, what they may or may not do. Of course the better relationship you build with your child as they are growing up and the more time you spend teaching your child to be a responsible individual by teaching them about life, morals, etc., the more your child will be prepared for their teen years, as well as taking on more responsibility.