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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

OMG! Have u seen ur text bill?



Textphone_2 Mommas of teens struggle over how much, if any, amount of texting is going on under their kids' thumbs. An Orlando teen has twice racked up more than 35,000 texts in a month. Lucky for her, her family has an unlimited texting plan or I'm sure there would be some severe consequences. (Maybe there should be anyway!) In a lively debate among some of my friends, I found three distinct texting camps:

A mom I know doesn't let her kids text and can't see it happening anytime soon because she sees no value it in. This sounds like old fogeyism to me and I called her on it. So what if it's stupid to type in "hey whassup" instead of just calling a friend? It's what they like. She argued that schools are fed up with the texting in class. The kids even have a very funny term for the talent of secretly texting under the desk with one hand.  But there are consequences there and at home (or at least there should be) if they are caught texting at school. They lose the phone.

All access
Another mom I know ponyed up for the unlimited text plan because it was just too much of a hassle monitoring the growing text bills and checking it every day to make sure Junior wasn't busting the budget with vital messages like RU OK? She's discovered she likes to text now, too. It's a fast way to get a status update on her teen and she secretly feels a lot cooler than her techno-phobic friends.

Budget lesson
Another friend noticed her son's text message account was getting closer and closer to his 400-message limit each month. She was tempted to go with an unlimited plan, but then it occurred to her this is a great way to teach budgeting. She showed her son the bill and said he was close to being out of text messages. He could either turn it off for the next 10 days or he could pay for any overage himself out of his allowance. He decided to pay up. Another mom I know bought her daughter a Tracfone, one of those pay-as-you-go type cell phones that you load with minutes. The parents pay about $20 every five weeks toward minutes and she buys any extras. Since she has to pay for it, she is very careful about the minutes. An added bonus is when she loses the phone, which has happened a couple times, it's not as big of a deal since they're as cheap as $15, and they make her buy the replacement.

The issue isn't going away. More than 80 percent of teens have cell phones because parents like their kids to be accessible. The average teen, according to one study, sends 50-70 text messages a day because they like the instant access to friends. The big bonus? They are a mom-avoidance device. They'd rather text than talk.

-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne

[Last modified: Thursday, May 13, 2010 10:58am]


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