Monday, July 18, 2011

Virtual Reality

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.

4,081.  Seriously.


Julie said...

I had a very interesting discussion about this recently! My aunt was talking about how the new generation of workers coming in is so different than the still-working baby boomers. There is literally a need for training so that they can work together. Part of it may be for social reasons and the other is the different work ethics- more instant gratification with the younger generations. But we live in an 'instant' society now. We know within minutes of a catastrophe happening, all the nitty-gritty details with photos included. It's fascinating but kind of sad. Stationary and letter writing are becoming obsolete. I think time will reveal some of the negative repercussions to this way of life. The current political situations are a good example of this as instant social media played a huge part in the last elections. I'm not saying it's a bad thing... It's just that everything is more heightened. This is a great topic, Leanne! And man, Cole must be a fast texter. Lol. :)

SewSara said...

and i thought i texted a lot!

i agree -- the 24/7 connection thing really changes things with kids these days.

i remember not seeing some of my friends AT ALL for the whole summer -- and kids these days can't imagine that sort of separation!

MindiJo said...

Wowza! We need to learn how to text each other faster. Apparently.

Interesting topic. I'm glad you brought it up. I admittedly have not put that much thought into it yet. In all fairness, I haven't dealt with it yet. It's interesting how the world changes, isn't it?

Good post. It made me think.

MindiJo said...

BTW: I just read somewhere (and had heard it previously) that cell phones cause brain tumors. So Yay! to Cole for being proactive and typing instead of calling with his cell.

Anonymous said...

Way to go for being proactive and a part of his life in this positive way, for 'snooping' over his shoulder-sorta-a-say and to keep him on the right path. Most parents, let alone step-parents don't care! :( And wow--that is a lot of texts--in such a short time too! Kudos to you Leanne!!

Nate said...

my sons first month was about 18,000.

let that sink in.

no, I'm not kidding.

Needless to say, he does it lesws now.