Whoever invented texting should be arrested.

Maybe that is a bit extreme, but I can guarantee that he or she didn’t have teenagers.

With our oldest at 13, Matt and I are just beginning our ride on the teenage roller coaster. It is already obvious that dealing with technology and its impact on a young person’s life is going to be one of our biggest parenting challenges.

I understand a teen’s desire to communicate with friends. Heaven knows I spent hours stretching the phone cord down the hallway to talk with my friends.

Today’s teens would rather pull out their eyelashes than actually “call” a friend (which is disturbing — and a topic for a whole different blog). But, they will carry on a text conversation forever … saying nothing. Here is a sample text conversation between two 13-year-old girls:

Girl #1: Whats up?

Girl #2: Nothin hbu [translation: How about you?]

#1: Nothin

#2: I’m bored

#1: Me 2

#2: LOL

#1: ikr [translation: I know, right?]

#2: gtg bye [translation: Got to go]

#1: K bye

This type of thing doesn’t worry me. It’s the Snapchat, Instagram, ask.fm, Facebook and Kik that scare me. And, these are just the techy appy-type things I, as a 44-year-old mom, know about. New ways to share pictures and comments and snoop into other people’s lives are created everyday. Teens are tech-savvy; they discover and figure these things out while moms like me are still trying to post a photo on Instagram.

Matt and I regularly remind our girls that anything they post, text or comment through their little iPods can and will likely be repeated and broadcast over and over again for anyone and everyone to see (including other parents). We’ve also warned over and over again that the sweet-faced online girl with pretty hair that sent a friend request could actually be a 45-year-old unshaven man living in his parents’ basement.

We don’t have all the answers to parenting in this high-tech world. Limiting “device time,” especially in the evening and on weekends, seems to work in our household. Just like adults, kids are prone to the time-sucking power of the Internet.

We also read their texts and are “friends” in the social network world.

The most important lesson learned is that nothing is foolproof. Kids know how to delete and they can (and will) open duplicate accounts to bypass parents. Short of locking your daughter in a wi-fi free room and keeping her away from any friends living in the 21st century, there is no way to completely control every aspect of your child’s technology experience.

Matt and I agree that the best defense is a strong offense. Being a “checked-in” parent and talking, listening and simply paying attention to our kids is our #1 game plan.

Frankly, I just wish they would pick up the phone and actually talk to their friends!

Anne Blankenbiller

Anne Blankenbiller

K-12 & Teens

Most of my mornings, afternoons, and evenings are spent driving the kids here and there—and then back to here again. Every child is a gift on loan from God. As parents, our job is to raise that child to be an independent adult who can contribute to the world using the gifts and talents he or she was given. It is hands-down the most important job on earth!

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