Cell Phone Usage by Teenagers

Updated on December 30, 2009
J.K. asks from Condon, MT
15 answers

I just spent the last 3 days with my teenage nieces who spent more time texting on their phones than talking to the people in the same room. They are typical teenagers, but it would have been nice to not compete with the phones. How do other parents deal with this? My sister's family live far away so the girls are not able to see their friends over the holidays. She did not have a problem with them spending so much time on their phones since they were not able to see their friends in person. My kids are still young so I have not had to address this problem. When I said something to my sister she was offended and said "At least they came along." I felt they were only along in body, but not completely in mind. When they weren't texting they were sleeping. How should I have handled this problem?

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So What Happened?

It looks like the responses are mixed. I tried not to make it too big of a deal, but I think like someone said I will try to set the boundries differently with my own children. I'm not into texting so maybe I just don't get the attraction. I have kept in touch with them on Facebook and try to understand their view, but it would be nice to catch up face to face when we have the chance.

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answers from Philadelphia on

I've had the same thoughts with my neices and nephews over the Christmas holiday. It will be interesting to see all the responses. I think it is very very RUDE!! When we were kids we socialized with all adults and children in the room, we offered to help clean, and any other help we thought needed to be done. That doesn't happen at all these days and it really bothers me! They are all too busy talking with friends and making plans and what not to even care that they are with the family.

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answers from St. Cloud on

HI J.! I have a teenage nephew and 2 teenage nieces. I disagree with the notion that the electronic age is destroying family relationships. As an Auntie, I have realized that if I want to get into their world, I had better learn to text.

One question is.....did your nieces have anything to do besides listen to adults talk? They may have been bored or self conscious or homesick.

As one poster said.....don't take it personally. This past weekend, we had a Dutch Blitz tournament with my neices and nephew and I didn't see them texting one single time. Oh, also, get a Wii game system or rent one when they come. It's hard to text when you are dancing, playing tennis or bowling!

I guess the moral of my story is that I felt so disconnected as an Auntie but the more I invested into their world, the more they wanted to be a part of mine.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

It is insane the lack of manners parents teach now. My neighbor introduced me to her daughter who she had hoped to babysit my kids, and her daughter was too busy texting to speak me or the kids properly. Needless to say, she didn't get hired.

I also made sure to mention to the girl I did hire that I didn't want her texting while babysitting. Sure-hypothetically, she could handle some texts while watching kids, but if she's a textaholic, I'm NOT interested in her caring for my kids for safety reasons. Her mom, who was with her, said she does not have a text feature on her phone, and she would only have it with her if it made me comfortable, otherwise she could use my land line to call for help. SLAM DUNK!!!!, You GO, MOM! The kids love our new babysitter, and I love her too.

We were required to be courteous and attentive to company as kids, but somehow teens today have carte blanche to be preoccupied with their friends CONSTANTLY and it's a big tragedy if they don't talk to them for a couple of hours-let alone days. Wait-let me get my cane "When I was a wee lass, we had to talk to our friends-those rare brave souls who dared call our house that is- on the land line with the short cord with my parents glaring at us to get off after five minutes and demanding to know who was calling."

Unfortunately there is nothing you can do about OTHER people's kids. But if it's your sister you can state your opinion about it or make some wise cracks to the teens about their rudeness.

When my kids get older, if phones are still the thing and they don't have laser implants by then to send brainwaves to their friends, as long as I am paying for the phone, they are having calls only, no texts and no cameras. When they pay for it themselves, they can text but still adhere to manners and never in the car. They will be told as long as they live under my roof I will check their phones to see if there was any activity while they were driving and if there was there will be hell to pay. My three kids and I nearly got hit by a teen on her phone the other day. I'm over it. Spoiled brats.

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answers from Lynchburg on

Just wanted to share a funny true story...
when eldest son first got a cell phone...I caught him texting in church.
I excused myself to ladies room during mass...and texted him a 'message' from GOD...lol
needless to say...no more texting from church...and when home had a lengthy discussion on 'texting manners'


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answers from Pittsburgh on

I think it's rude. I can see checking messages a few times er day but I have had out of town visiting nieces ad I thought it was über annoying!



answers from Allentown on

Honestly I don't feel it's a problem. Certainly not yours, if your sister is fine with it then so be it. I see the point that it's a bit disrespectful for them to be texting or chatting constantly, especially at the holidays while spending time with family. Perhaps you would ask that they don't have their phones at certain times....during dinner or whatever times you feel are most important as the family.
They're kids, to them connecting with peers if more important. If you take that away they'd just be miserable. Let them have some "fun". Next time find some balance if it bothers you- let them know when it's acceptable & when it's not.
Good luck!



answers from Philadelphia on


I find it amusing that the people who don't have teens are the most outspoken about not texting. Teens want to spend time with their friends. I find it easier to allow texting than to have my kids be off with their friends all the time, or to have their friends tag along with us all of the time. Limits have to be set, such as not during mealtimes or other specific times. But I agree that if the teens are bored, or are not allowed to talk to their friends, it makes everyone unhappy. Try a little understanding of where they are in their lives.



answers from York on

Just wanted to add from my experience as a teacher... Teens also text in class, sometimes receiving texts from their parents during class, which doesn't help enforce our cell phone rules in school.
But a bigger thing I'd like to alert moms to... You claim that your nieces were sleeping when not texting- I'm here to tell you that it happens all night long too. Many of my seventh grade students would be up all hours of the night texting without their parents knowledge. Of course, they were exhausted in class! May I suggest a cell curfew, placing all the family phones in a mandatory charger under parental supervision till morning?



answers from Philadelphia on

I have to agree with the first post. If you had taken that away from them they would have been miserable. My older two are going to be 13 and 14. They spent most of the time on their new ipod touch (or wii or ds). They still had the occasional conversation with the adults. I don't think forcing them to mingle with the adults would have been fun for either one of us. Just the age...they will grow out of it. Their still kids and want to "play" with their new gadgets.

As an aunt, i catch my teenage nieces and nephews when i can. I may only get a few minutes but i don't let it bother me. Please know that it is not personal. Some day when they mature you will have great conversations and can laugh about their texting days :)


answers from Allentown on

Hi, J.:

As you already have experienced, the electronic age is destroying family relationships.

You will need to learn how to set boundaries when your nieces visit. No phones or no visits.

Look into the Co-Dependents Anonymous meetings in your local area at www.coda.org

Good luck. D.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Yes it was rude for them to text the entire time. I have a 17 yr old daughter and while with her boyfirends family texts only me, as I require her to keep me informed of change of plans, etc. his one grandma requires collecting of phones at the door. I have taken her friends phones and texted to whoever was texting and told them we were visiting and she would text later. they are all alright with it, as many call me momma anyways,
Kids need to know boundries - you can make that rule when they are in your home. Give them time to check for important messages - but make them realize "Family - quality time" too



answers from Philadelphia on

I have a teenaged girl and I agree that this is rude, rude, rude. I do not allow my daughter to be this rude. When we are together with her cousins, who live in other states, are her age (1 boy, 1 girl, from 2 different families), etc., not one is texting. My daughter and her cousin from Illinois put their phones away when we're visiting with the cousins in NY, and my nephew in NY occasionally responds to a text, but they realize (have been taught?) that being together is quality time.... My daughter wants to take her iPod Touch everywhere so she can see if there is wireless and use it, but we don't allow that, either. Here in PA she is much older than her cousins, but she knows that she needs to be with her cousins or with her aunts/uncles/parents/

I would not have been offended if someone had told me my daughter was texting constantly. I would have been grateful that someone was kind enough to bring this to my attention.

Good luck with that. All the technology is tough competition to family time these days (and I hate it)!



answers from Philadelphia on

Honestly, this wasn't and isn't your problem. As your kids get older, set your own limits. You aren't your nieces's mom.


answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi J., I have two teen girls that love to text. I have banned cell phones from the dinner table...and when we go out to visit friends or family I expect my girls to keep their phones away once we arrive until we leave. It's called manners! Sure, if it was a weekend long visit there should be time allowed for calles and texting...and that should be done alone...I would suggest in the morning or maybe after lunch they excuse themselves from the main areas of the home, go to a bedroom or otherwise unoccupied area of the home and text away. Then they should re-join the family activities cell-phone-less!! The next time your nieces come to stay plan some time & place so they can text without offending you and other family members and explain to them sweetly that you want to spend time with them...not looking at their heads bent over their cell phones texting away! You may get some rolled eyes and disgusted sighs...but they will get over it! Best wishes.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I have a 16 year old and i learned to texr so i can talk to her sometimes. LOl but my rule is when we are visitng family or friends teh phone gets shut off and put away i think it was rude of your sister-in-law to hae no rules on texting when family was there but also did you ask them how have they been what tehyr up to and get there number and you also can text them.
good luck

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