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“Hello. Where R U?” My Teens’ Delayed Text Responses

Since the kids were born, I’ve always wondered, “What is this kid going to be when he grows up?” There’s my kid who genuinely likes being around people and enjoys playing the “big brother.” I picture him as a camp director, pediatric psychologist, maybe even an admissions counselor. 

The next kid, who doesn’t like people, loves math and is a puzzler. I see him as an engineer, a startup guy. 

Then there’s the third—loves animals, making people feel better. She could be a veterinarian, or the director of a non-profit serving families in need.

Like every parent, I believe they can do anything.

Except one thing.

None of them will be first-responders—because they’re just not great about responding.

When Your Teens Stop Texting

Not only that, in fact, I’m guessing not one kid in their generation will be a first responder.  I’m not positive, but I think that by definition, you would have to be … responsive.

Here’s how it goes with them:

Kid one sends a text: Plan tonight?

My response: Dinner. Clean up dinner.

(…typing)

His response: Ha. Do I need to be home?

My response: Only if you want dinner.

(…typing)

His response: Kk

My response: Do you have plans?

(…no typing)

His response:

His response:

His response:

As one of my friend jokes, did he throw his phone in the toilet? Was he abducted?  Stroke at such a young age?

Kid number two sends a text: Hey. What’s the plan for Friday? (This kid is a planner.)

My response: Dinner. Family movie.

(…typing)

His response: Is it okay if a friend comes over?

My response: Sure.

(…typing)

His response: We may do our own thing for dinner.

My response: Seems silly. I have food. Why spend $

(…no typing)

His response:

His response:

His response:

Is it me? Did I say the wrong thing? Some would argue, how great that I get to have the last word. Not so much.

I Never Get A Response

For amusement, I looked up the definition of first responder. Here’s what I found:

“It is important that they have access to reliable, interoperable communications.”

Does that mean 24-hour access to a handheld computer that receives and sends communication across the world? Check. Whenever they want? Check. To whomever they want? Check.

But it doesn’t work if they don’t use it.  I am horrified thinking about my kid, the EMT, taking a pulse-ox, getting the patient on the gurney, and then…just walking away.

I can’t help but think about the book I used to read to them when they were little:  Click Clack Moo, Cows that Type. Farmer Brown’s cows find an old typewriter in the barn. All day he hears them typing (sound familiar?) and they send him letters, listing various demands (the similarity is uncanny).

The similarity wanes though as these fictitious characters keep responding. They don’t just disappear out of nowhere. These fictitious characters had better communication skills than my non-hoofed, iPhone carrying human beings, whom presumably have higher IQs. The cows even used punctuation, and spelled out the word Y-O-U.

So, as I think about the aging Baby-boomers, and my generation not far behind, I hope and pray that my startup son can create an app for emergencies (HELPI’VEFALLEN) and that his charming brother can build a team to sell it to prospective clients and his soulful sister can raise the funds for it. It’s the only hope we’ve got.

Stephanie Silverman

Stephanie Schaeffer Silverman is publisher of Your Teen Magazine.

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