By Dawn Tedrow, Courier & Press, August 9, 2016 –
Cell phones have become a constantly updated, active journal of our lives. They are filled with conversations texted between friends, complete with emojis and acronyms. On social media we post pictures of ourselves — selfies — and tag pictures of friends and family.
I can look at my memories page on Facebook and tell you exactly what I was doing on this day three years ago. Yes, technology is a wonderful way to quickly share information.
One of the many ways I help kids as a Youth First social worker is calming anxious or upset students. After filling the trash can with used tissues and consuming a piece of chocolate to calm the nerves, we get down to the nitty-gritty: “What upset you so much?”
Invariably, the cell phone is whipped out to recount text messages received during class. We untangle the web of text messages. I acknowledge the student’s feelings and discuss how to handle the situation.
What surprises me is the number of students who are upset following a text from their parent. I understand most parents send a text to their son or daughter intending for them to receive it at the end of the day.
Unfortunately, I find students super glued to their cell phones and iPads continuously during the school day. So the message informing them they are grounded after school for not doing the dishes has now disrupted the rest of their school day.
Perhaps we should stop and think about how we utilize our cell phones to convey messages. Is it possible we share too much through text? Is the timing appropriate?
Consider this scenario: Tom notices his cell phone vibrating, signaling a text message. It is from his mom saying, “Your dad just lost his job.”
Tom is no longer paying attention to his algebra teacher giving instruction; he begins to breathe quickly and feel ill. He requests to use the bathroom and leaves the classroom. On the way to the bathroom, he is wondering why his dad might have lost his job and worries how the family will make it financially.
Tom attempts to call his mom, but she is not answering her phone. She went next door to talk to a friend and left her phone on the kitchen table. Tom tries a few more times and returns to class. He is unable to focus on anything in class and thoughts are whirling around in his head.
Before sending a text to your son or daughter, consider the importance of the message. Is it necessary to send the message now? Perhaps you can wait and send it later or tell your child in person after school. Could the message be upsetting? If so, it might be best to wait to speak to the student in person.
Talk to your son or daughter about how they feel about receiving messages from you. Agree on how information should be delivered and what is appropriate to share via text or social media. Opening up the lines of communication will help reduce your son or daughter’s stress, but timing and method of delivery can make a huge difference.