Communication Conversion

Honestly – does your teen text you from inside the house? And if they do – do you text back?

What is happening to the art of conversation? Or at least the ability or desire to converse in person?

It’s an interesting phenomenon if you step back and look at it. When cell phones allowed us to go mobile, and speak to whomever whenever we wanted to, Americans thought that was amazing. I called my mom much more often, and it made long commutes in California traffic so much more interesting.

We no longer had to wait by the phone for that special someone to call – whether it was the repairperson or the person we were hoping would fix our relationship status (wait-we didn’t have that term then, either). Cell phones allowed us freedom to communicate all the time.

Then email hit.  Suddenly, we didn’t have to wait for business hours to get information-we could ask questions, register complaints or schedule appointments at our convenience. We could break up, make up, or shake up relationships at all hours, and we could do it in the glorious isolation of our homes. No longer could the recipient hear the quiver in our voice, or the howl of pain, or the venom that we felt. All communication was one way, and we had time to think of a witty response.

With texting, a hybrid of phone and email caught on quickly with kids, not so fast with adults. I started texting because I wanted to communicate with my daughter, and since she had quickly deemed email too slow, and phone calls were nonexistent, texting was a perfect option to still communicate with her, and no one needed to know she was talking with her mom.

Her texts are often one to four word responses to my questions, but at least she’s answering, right? She texts me where she’s going, who she is with, and when she wants me to remember to deposit her allowance in her checking account. I get a text when she leaves a textbook at home, or after a particularly tough test at school. Just this morning I awoke to a text from my daughter. Away at summer camp, I guess she misses me?

So when she’s in her room and wants to know what’s for dinner, I get a text. I’ll admit-it kind of bugs me. Why can’t she get off her seat and come ask me? Is she really studying that intently, or is Facebook that alluring? Or am I just being old fashioned? Is this the way my grandparents felt when my mom stopped writing them letters from camp and called instead?

I’m beginning to think it’s a losing battle-texting is here to stay. And I’ll secretly admit it-I occasionally enjoy texting her from upstairs to remind her to do her chores.

Two can play at this game 🙂

photos courtesy of

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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  2. I was just talking about this! My step-daughters will, in the middle of a conversation, just start texting someone, or attend to their precious phones. They are adults now, which is even worse manners. I’m afraid, unless we start talking about how rude this is , we are going to have generations behaving this way to the old folks home;) By the way, I can’t stand texting:)

  3. We are big texters in our house. My oldest is almost 19 and the middle one is 15. WE text in the house or when the kids are somewhere and need to be picked up or change meeting places etc. If they need to remind me of something then they text it to me. Texting is like a more permanent post-it note for me.

  4. Love this post. I never text my kids, because my mobile phone is usually lying dead somewhere in my purse. I never use it, so my kids know better than to to text me.
    In our house we just scream.

  5. Mama,
    I must say I love Technology: texting, email, facebook, twitter, blogs,skype… etc…
    but I shall not buy a smart phone. It’s just one. more. addiction. Xx

  6. I’m a huge fan of email, tweeting, blogging, and even programming, but I still have trouble texting. I don’t know if it’s my phone or my clumsiness, but I’m forever typing the wrong letter and needing to correct my spelling. I’d like to think it’s my phone instead of me. LOL.

    1. Doesn’t auto correct drive you crazy? I was thinking there should be some way to approve the corrections-I’m forever making mistakes, too. Although they do provide some good laughs now and then!

  7. Great post! I like how you added in there how our grandparents must have felt when we changed from letters to phone calls. Change happens so fast… and we either go with it, or we become part of the scenery. I’m trying to enjoy as much “real conversation” with my little ones as I can… before they grow up and get cell phones! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Paula. After I posted this my own mom emailed me to tell me she wasn’t even allowed to phone call home from camp! I think it’s important to have ‘face time’ with our kids- I like to chat just before they’re going to bed, even when they’re teens!

  8. I’ve gotten to where I never answer my phone. It’s terrible but I’d almost rather text or email than talk to people. I guess its a sign of someone with too little time on her hands.

    1. I completely agree! I do not like to chat on the phone while my kids (or others) are around-usually I save conversations for long walks or car rides. I’ve always felt more comfortable with the written word, so email is great for me!

  9. I love how you ended “two can play that game”. I think its great that it is a means of communication to the parents. I probably would have talked to my more in college #1 if long distance calling wasn’t so expensive and #2 if I had privacy. I didn’t want to sit in the hallway “all time time” like I was on the phone with my boyfriend or something when I was really chitchatting with mom. So whatever it takes 😉 We talk pretty much everyday still through either phone, text or email.

    1. Thanks, Kenya. I think it’s crucial for parents (and adults) to keep up with changes in society. We mustn’t let technology create an even bigger generation gap-and I agree, whatever it takes!

    1. I agree, Michael Ann. I think it’s interesting to step back and look at how it effects us…not to mention Twitter reducing their number of characters for tweets!

  10. I always find this interesting. I always prefer to speak to people in person rather than over the phone (but living a long way from family and friends has changed how I need to communicate).

    And I remember one year doing a short inservice at work on modern student communication – kids at school were writing in class assignments as if they were texting etc – most of us had no idea what some of those little “LOL-like” things meant. It’s hard to know whether to embrace it or push them back towards traditional means of communication:)

    Thanks for sharing here,

    1. Hi Kristina,
      I think it’s fun to challenge kids to write a tweet-140 characters-about something related to what we’re reading. I think balance is key-keeping it too short is problematic, of course, and so are those acronyms!

  11. I would honestly hate to be a teenager in today’s world. Everything is documented, highlighted and shared…it must make for a lot of heartache I would say. My daughter has never text me from upstairs…not yet anyway!

    1. Hi Susan,
      That’s a good point-we all do have to keep in mind the ease with which our words can be forwarded and documented! It puts a whole new spin on communication,doesn’t it?

  12. At least you don’t have to shout or scream at the top of your lungs when she’s upstairs and you’re in the kitchen.

    If this is the ‘norm’ for teens these days, I wonder what’s in store for me when my 3-year-old becomes a teenager himself? I am kinda scared. Haha!

    1. Czjai,
      Not so fast-there is a bit of shouting at times, but mostly after I’ve texted her to do something she’s not interested in doing! By the time your child is a teen, who knows!

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