In Defense Of Texting, My Favorite Parenting Tool

In Defense Of Texting, My Favorite Parenting Tool

shutterstock_212129986Yes, I know the dangers. That it affects the brain like an addictive drug. That it shortens our attention spans, and reduces our sleep, increases our stress and keeps us from interacting meaningfully with our kids. I have read all the studies and agree we should all back away from our screens, put down our phones and look each other in the eye when we talk.

But I make an exception for texting.

And science just might back me up on that.

“Wanna write about this and your obsessive texting with your boys?” our executive lifestyle editor, Lori Leibovich, asked me in an email, attaching a link to a small study by a graduate student at the University of Nebraska which concludes that “texting may actual tighten the family bond.”

I responded: “‘Obsessive’ is such a judgey word. I prefer ‘loving.’ ”

“I meant to say ‘loving!'” Lori responded.

So loving it is. And yes, I very much want to write about the bit of technology that has transformed modern parenting.

Texting (and its cousins, Instant Messaging and G-chatting) is the one tool that isn’t simply a faster, shorter, more souped up version of something we have always done. Cell phone calls are really just phone calls from a wider variety of places. The internet is a vast version of the encyclopedia, or the shopping mall or the movie theater. Email is, well, still mail. Heck Facebook is really a more frequent family Christmas letter.

Texts, though, are a new way to communicate — rooted in those notes you passed between classes in middle school, maybe, but also completely different. They are like a conversation, but not exactly, intimate yet efficient, a way to be together but apart. READ MORE