According to a new Pew Research Center survey, almost one third of families living together use texting in lieu of conversing face-to-face. Texting has become the easy, convenient way to communicate between partners and family members. The statistic was higher when families had children. When asked why, most of the respondents agreed that phones are always with you, they reduce yelling at each other, and are more convenient. In one third of the homes, smart phones were being used at mealtimes.
You may not be surprised at this report. After all, texting your significant other when you’re in the middle of something can help you communicate with them without having to drop what you’re doing. Or if your teen is texting friends, a short text from mom or dad saying you’re needed in the kitchen is easier than yelling across the house. For many couples, texting can reduce conflict, yelling and drama. However, texting also allows you to deny and sweep big issues under the rug. Eventually, someone begins to feel isolated, misunderstood, and disengaged from the family. We become dependent upon our phones to communicate.
So where do we draw the line? How much is too much texting? Are we psychologically damaging our relationships and children when we replace eye contact and direct communication with a text? Building and maintaining a healthy marriage and family is already challenging enough. Here’s some suggestions for taking advantage of the texting technology to stay connected with your partner and children without sacrificing intimate time together.
Texting is not allowed at the dinner table. 8.6 % of teens who text during family meals tend to have poorer family communication and overall communication, according to a study in 2013 published in the Journal of Academy of Nutrition and Diabetes.
Face-to-face conversation should be used when couples or teens are facing difficult issues. Difficult issues are resolved easier when there is face-to-face discussion. Texting misses many of the nuances in tone and body language that are necessary when you work through difficult issues.
Texting in the home should never be hateful or angry. Being respectful of each other is important. If you’re not in control of your anger, the best option is to journal, exercise, mediate, or see a therapist.
No texting during family events. The whole idea of spending time with your family is being present. Whether it’s a pizza night or game night, if your body is there, shut your phone off.
Couples and children should text during the day to stay connected. Marriages that have lost their spark can rebuild it by sending each other romantic, funny texts throughout the day. Teens feel more connected to their family when their family responds to their texts throughout the day.
Technology is meant to restore and foster communication. When used appropriately, texting can improve communication and cohesiveness within the family.