In 15 days, the teenager has sent and received...wait for it...4,081 text messages. Holy crap, Cole. That is an average of 272 per day. I expect it'll calm down when the novelty wears off a little but WOW. That's a lot of texting. (He totally cracked up when I told him, by the way. I'm guessing we'll add to that number when he texts his friends that information.)
When I posted the phone contract, I had a good friend ask me if I thought I was invading his privacy by reading his text messages. She said, "would you read his diary?" I thought about it briefly before I responded that it's not apples to apples. What the teenager says in public...via text message or facebook is just that: public. Therefore, it impacts his reputation and it impacts other people. His diary would be for his eyes only, and wouldn't impact someone else directly. I do not ever want to say, "I had no idea my kid was..."
I have checked his phone a couple times. He always hands it over willingly. He says, "Don't worry. I told my friends I'm not allowed to swear." SUPER. Nice. Good job, Cole. It's vanilla. Nothing to worry about. I don't read for content (trust me, it's almost all nonsense!), but for red flags. If knowing I'm "peering over his shoulder" makes him think twice about behaving inappropriately, so be it.
When we were teenagers (a hundred years ago), I have no doubt that the boys sat around the fire or in someones bedroom on Friday nights and tried on bad words. They talked about girls, and practiced swearing. BUT that was the primary extent of their opportunity. Those moments. Now, kids have 24/7 access to each other. What is the consequence of that? If they start using that language now, at that frequency, I'm pretty sure it becomes part of their vernacular. No thank you.
And what's the consequence of having primarily virtual relationships? Do you learn to communicate well? Do you learn eye contact? Do you know how to read body language? I am worried about these things. Therefore, I will continue to make sure the teenager has real face time with his friends. I will continue to talk to him about relationships and how to treat women. In real life (in addition to via text).
It's complicated. This is the first generation of kids who will have access to their social network at all times. I do wonder what the result/benefits will be. I read this article while getting a pedicure tonight, which mirrored a lot of my thoughts. Take time read it if you're interested.