With each generation the art of multitasking seems to be perfected.

Of course we have modern technology to thank for so much of this. Who ever thought you could be carrying on two completely different conversations at the same time?

Today’s teens have become masters of the technology of communication. But let’s be honest, haven’t you ever felt frustrated when you are carrying on a conversation with your teen and notice that while they are talking they are simultaneously texting.

Teenage as a Second LanguardThe most frustrating thing of all is that sometimes they actually appear to be following what you are saying! HOW DO THEY DO THAT???

Maybe you are smiling as you read this because you too have perfected this art at work or even at home.

Technology has allowed us all to communicate in real time all the time. Sometimes though, don’t you want to just sit down with your teen and be sure you have his undivided attention? I mean is texting at the dinner table really necessary?

I know one mom who got so annoyed with this behavior that she texted her teen during dinner one night with the following: “Please pass the potatoes.” Now maybe you would think her teen would get the message however, instead, he just passed the potatoes without skipping a beat!

So, what do I suggest?

  • Talk with your teen about your concern. 

Gently explain that when you are talking with her you expect her undivided attention.

  • Discuss texting etiquette. 

For example, are you okay with your teen texting during dinner?

  • Do not break your own rules! 

If you start texting while you are talking to your teen or spouse you are sending a mixed message.

  • Be consistent. 

Don’t allow her to text at the table one day but then complain the next.

  • Set clear rules and boundaries.

For example, you may want to set a time by which you expect your teen to turn off his cell phone for the night. We know more than a few teens who routinely oversleep or awake tired and bleary eyed because they are texting with their friends until the wee hours.

Don’t be afraid to require your teen to turn her cell phone in to you at night if she is unable to turn it off and keep it off on her own. You are not being mean, you are being a parent.

We can all agree that there are many benefits to texting. This technology has allowed parents to communicate directly both quickly and unobtrusively.

By establishing texting guidelines with your teens everyone benefits.

TextingDr. Jennifer Powell-Lunder is a clinical psychologist specializing in work with children, tweens, teens, young adults, and their parents. She is the co-author of Teenage as a Second Language: A Parent’s Guide to Becoming Bilingual and www.TalkingTeenage.com.

She is a columnist and contributor on field related issues. Jennifer is regularly called upon by both national and international media outlets for consultation. Through her experience she has listened and learned from the tween and teens in her life.

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