During my tween/teen checkups, I try to spend some time talking about how much time an adolescent spends on their phone, how much time on their computer and how much time they are watching TV. Kind of a compilation of how they handle on line/on screen per day.
While everyone is different I do like to see if parents have discussed rules with their teens surrounding the use of ALL electronics. I find that most adolescents and their parents do have rules about the use of their phones and computers and most parents try to limit their child's constant need to be on screen.
I was recently talking with a teen boy, who is one of 5 children. He has great parents and they are very attentive to all of the distractions related to cell phones and computer use and try to keep all of the screen use in moderation.
During his routine exam, I asked him about his cell phone usage, and if he had rules for using the phone, he answered that he didn't have a phone.....anymore. Upon further polite probing he told me that he had had his phone taken away due to the fact that he had been texting too much.
Now, in my practice, many of my patients seem to be texting all of the time. Many parents had already told me that their child had unlimited texts and several had told me that their children had bills with as many as 9,000 texts/month. But, when I asked him how many texts he had recorded in a month he sheepishly told me 16,000!!! WHAT??
So, I came home to my computer to try and figure out how many texts that was per week, day, hour? (he had told me that his dad had a spread sheet that he could get me if I wanted). I went straight to my own calculator. If he had 16,000 texts/month, that is 571 texts per day (assuming 28 day month). If you figure that a teen is in school for 8 hours/day (where I guess they are not supposed to be texting) and they SHOULD sleep at least 8 hours, that leaves 8 hours for texting?
Now these may be a bit off by an hour or so (and who knows if he keeps that cell phone really turned off during school), but that would mean 71 texts per hour when not either in school or asleep!! In other words more than 1 text per minute when he is awake! WOW!!
So if you are not discussing texting and limiting constant communication with your tweens and teens I think you should be. This boy even admitted to me that he felt he had gone overboard with texting and really enjoyed talking to his friends. He told his mother during the course of our visit that when he did get the privilege of having a cell phone again, that he thought he needed one that just made phone calls. He told her, get me a really old fashioned one that just rings, as I don't want to be tempted to text! Bright teen don't you think?
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