Learn to text if you want to 'talk' with your teen

Thursday, September 13, 2018

A friend likes to joke that he and his wife are going out to look at their phones while they have lunch together.

Wait in line for more than a minute, and you’ll probably find your self and queuemates pulling out your smartphone to check Twitter or Facebook, check the news or your bank balance.

It’s a sign of the pervasiveness of mobile technology and American teens almost ready to give up face-to-face talking altogether.

According to a study published Monday by the independent organization Common Sense Media, 35 percent of kids aged 13-17 would rather send a text than meet up with people, which received 32 percent.

When a similar survey was taken in 2012, face-to-face meetings won 49 percent of the vote, to texting’s 33 percent.

That means more than two-thirds of American teens would choose remote communications such as texting social media, video and phone conversation to face-to-face meetings, according to the study.

Not surprisingly, over the same six-year span, the proportion of 13- to 17-year-olds with their own smartphone increased from 41 to 89 percent.

More than 80 percent said they used online exchanges, 32 percent calling it “extremely” or “very” important. Sixty-three percent use Snapchat, followed by 61 percent on Instagram and 43 percent on Facebook.

Fifty-four percent admit use of social networks steals attention from those they are with, and 40 percent say time spent on social media keeps them from spending more time with friends in person.

The takeaway for parents, who are often admonished that they should talk to their kids, is that perhaps they shouldn’t be afraid to add texting or social media to their parenting tools.

One caution, however, can be attributed to Alan Turing, who devised the test that bears his name in 1950. To pass, a computer must fool a human communicating with it into thinking it is a human.

If developers issue the right apps, parents everywhere may be in trouble ...

On second thought, responsible parents had better insist on talking in person on a regular basis.

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