The text effect: How texting could derail your teen's social development
We're a society totally and completely dependent on cell phones. Leave it at home and you feel lost. It's a world adults are trying to grasp and today's teens have been born into.Photo: Video by kgun9.com
Reporter: Cory Marshall
TUCSON(KGUN9-TV) - We're a society totally and completely dependent on cell phones. Leave it at home and you feel lost. It's a world adults are trying to grasp and today's teens have been born into.
Diane Scahller is like many parents. Her 16-year-old daughter is attached to texting.
"I fear that she's not going to know how to communicate when she's out of college or working in whatever profession, career," Schaller said.
"Adolescence is a time when ideally kids are learning good social judgment and how to relate to other people. [They're] forming their sense of self and excessive technology use can get in the way of that," Clinical psychologist Dr. John Rosegrant told 9OYS.
He says long-term, today's texting-teens may have problems with impulse control. Parents have probably seen it, your child gets a text and responds right away without thinking it through. Rosegrant, who has written articles on technology use in adolescence, says delays in social development are possible.
"The possible downside is kids move into adulthood more socially immature than they would have otherwise," Rosegrant said.
While it's more of a problem in children that are shy, the side-effects of too-much texting is widespread.
"They can come to rely on texting in a way that they cut themselves off more and more from face-to-face communication with people," Rosegrant continued.
What's more, children are not learning social cues.
"They don't learn as well to judge the tone of voice, the facial expression, the posture of people they are communicating with because that information is missing," Rosegrant said.
"Those are really for many people very difficult skills and they're becoming more difficult as you text more," Developmental Pediatricians Dr. Sydney Rice told 9OYS's Cory Marshall.
"One of the big problems is children who text a lot have trouble falling asleep because they have trouble turning off those electronics," Rice added.
She says children can receive a text in the middle of the night from a friend. The text wakes them up and suddenly, they're texting for two hours. In turn, they're tired at school and can't focus.
"I see many, many children with sleep disorders," Rice said.
But it's not all bad.
According to Rosegrant, "There are other kids who are not missing out who have vibrant social lives and in fact expand their social lives with this technology so it can work in both directions."
Rosegrant says texting, Facebook and social media itself can help socially isolated kids.
"There are some kids for whom, they aren't going to be doing much face to face communicating anyway and it can be a real useful avenue for making contact with other people
Experts agree the answer isn't taking away technology.
"Some of the most useful things that I found in working with families is to help the parents think through and become more comfortable with technology so that they can then help their children," Rice explained.
Dr. Rice says parents need to set the example and model moderate cell phone use. .
"They actually I think need to specifically say, 'Hey I really want to spend time with you and so because I love you I'm going to turn off all of my devices and focus only on you. I don't care how many messages I receive or who is texting me,'" Rice said.
It's a tip Schaller is hoping to incorporate with her daughter.
"That's really up to me. I have to as a parent. I have to pull back and start putting back in the human qualities," Schaller said.