Do Kids Text Their Parents Too Much?

Holly Roach, Staff Writer

As technology is becoming more and more commonplace in our homes, children are getting their own advanced tech earlier than ever. Along with this new normal seems to come higher rates of communication between kids and their parents. Kids seem to be more reliant on their guardians, needing contact at any given time, than generations without the capabilities to do so before them. One might be surprised to find that the data doesn’t support this observation. 

As a babysitter, I spend my fair share of time with kids of parents who are out for the night. A lot of these kids have newer and more expensive phones than me: iPads, iMessage, smart watches and more. While babysitting, I have noticed that my kids who have grown up with such amazing technology, and consequently access to their parents at all times, tend to be more dependent on their parents even while the parents are absent. This trend shows up in behavior anywhere from texting and calling often to meltdowns and tantrums because they want their parents home. I started to think that this younger generation was getting soft because they never had to say goodbye to Mom. 

 However, my anecdotal evidence led me to an incorrect conclusion. Surveys show that while the younger siblings of high school students get their phones earlier (31 percent of younger siblings get their phones 5th grade or earlier, compared to 17 percent of older siblings), they contact their parents the same amount or even less. Anna Huelskoetter, a WWS senior, reports on her siblings’ communication that, “‘My brother doesn’t bring his phone to school, so never. My sister does a little but I definitely do it the most.’” Another WWS senior, Molly Jamen, agrees. Jamen speaks of her how often her siblings contact her parents saying, “probably never since they are irresponsible and never communicate with my parents.”

In fact, if extreme amounts of communication was happening between children and their parents, it was usually the parents that initiated it. Darya Iranmanesh told the Wall Street Journal, “‘My mother texts me all the time…It’s like she’s at work, I’m at school, why are we texting each other? Like, I’ll see you later.’” While her mother acknowledges it is a distraction, she can’t help but check in or send scheduling reminders. This behavior is problem enough that the Huffington Post wrote an article titled “‘How Much Texting Between Parents and Kids is Too Much Texting? What about Independence?’” Instead of focusing on the children’s reliance issues, the article asked of families, “‘…should they text each other so frequently that the kids feel their parents are hovering and the parents feel they can’t live their own lives away from their children some of the day?’”

So the younger generation is not growing soft, and they are not getting more reliant than past generations. So why did that conclusion seem so logical? As a new generation becomes the young, the real trend – older people judging younger people – shows itself through different means. Gen Z is not getting soft, and neither were the millennials like the baby-boomers thought. The myth about the newest generation is eerily similar to the ones about millennials. Forbes addresses the conflict between boomers and millennials, writing, “‘Some of the exaggerations of conflicting views come from vast differences in approach to communication and work that are more style than substance. Yes, Millennials prefer texting over phone calls…  Those stylistic differences hide the fact that Baby Boomers and Millennials have more in common than we might think. A George Washington University study found that stereotypes about Millennials are more often than not rooted in myth.’”

The solution to new-age kids being “too reliant” on their parents and communication via cellphone is not to take away kids’ cell phones. Rather, the old need to stop jumping at every opportunity to look down on the young, just because they are different. The pattern of the old insulting the new generation on baseless accusations is so hard to crack that I didn’t notice I was doing the same myself. The key to fixing this issue of judgement is to question one’s own perspectives and to root their feelings in facts, rather than isolated experiences.