The Mayo Clinic recently put out a “Tween and Teen Health” note entitled Teen texting: Help your teen avoid the risks. In our opinion, their message is right on – if you are concerned about teen texting, there are two basic things you should do:
- Monitor your teen’s texting habits
- Set — and enforce — appropriate limits
The article calls out all of the main challenges that parents and teens face in terms of texting, including texting while driving, sleep interference, sexting, and cyberbullying. And even better, they provide proactive advice and recommendations around each area. A couple of recommendations in particular caught our eye:
Don’t allow texting while driving
According to the American Automobile Association, nearly 50 percent of teens admit to texting while driving, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported in 2008 that driver distraction was the cause of 16 percent of all fatal crashes and 21 percent of crashes resulting in an injury. Clearly, distracted driving endangers life and property.
But while the Mayo Clinic’s advice on how you keep your teen from texting is good – they recommend you talk to your teen about the consequences of texting while driving, and set clear rules and consequences about texting and driving – we feel they haven’t gone far enough. This is an area where advanced technologies like TxtWatcher’s texting monitoring application can provide a tool for parents to monitor their teen’s texting habits. By reviewing not only WHAT they text, but WHEN they text it, you can get some good insights into potential unsafe texting while driving practices.
Actively monitor your teen’s messages
Again, the message in this area is right, but the recommendations don’t go far enough. Don’t get us wrong, sitting down with your teen to look through his or her text messages occasionally, letting them know you plan to do this periodically, and reviewing your phone records to see how often your teen is sending and receiving messages is great advice.
The insight we’d like to add to this approach is that you can leverage advanced technologies like TxtWatcher’s texting monitoring application to automate much of this process, giving you continuous monitoring of your teen’s texting practices, alerting when sexting, cyberbullying, or other situations occur, and the ability to review your teen’s text messages on demand.
And this will become more and more important over time, as the article says: “As your teen gets older and engages with a wider variety of people — some of whom might be interested in inappropriate messages or contact — it becomes even more important to monitor his or her messages.”