Oh, the magical world of texting. And by “magical,” we mean it’s fascinating yet horrifying. It can be a convenient way to communicate — but on the flip side, it’s also a tool for cyberbullying and an unnecessary source of anxiety. A study featured in Journal of Children and Media analyzed teen texting habits, with some interesting results — particularly when it comes to the different ways boys and girls text.
The authors of the study held a series of focus groups with teens in four cities across the country. They looked at everything from phone ownership, interactions with parents, and interactions between boys and girls. Here’s what they found:
- Teens ages 12-17 send/receive an average of 60 texts each day
- Boys try to find “social acceptance” from girls via text, and being able to type out/edit their thoughts makes this kind of communication easier
- Boys consider phones a status symbol, used for basic communication. They make plans and keep conversations direct
- Girls have a tendency to use smiley faces and use texting just to chat/socialize
- Boys “play the game” when texting girls, or they step outside their usual style and try to please the female
- The chances of misunderstanding and disagreement via text is high
Summing up these findings, the authors say, “It is in these texts, the teens are working out their notions of gender and how to interact with people of the opposite gender.”
While it’s great that teens have texting as a communication outlet, it’s important to not let it be their sole source of conversations. Interacting in person is incredibly valuable, and as the research points out, texting can lead to unnecessary, otherwise avoidable disagreements.
Did you know there’s a health and well-being magazine for teens? Learn more about Choices, and share these stories about phones with your teens, including “RU 2 RUDE 2 B ONLINE?” and “Which one of them is a cyberbully?“!