Monday, November 22, 2010

The Children Speak: I interview my daughters about texting, sexting and safety

This is sponsored content from
BlogHer and LG Text Ed

If you remember from my post a couple of weeks ago I mentioned that as part of my ongoing participation in the LG Text-Ed program I would be interviewing my daughters, ages 12 and 14, about their views on cell phone usage and safety. Lo and behold, the children were interviewed and it wasn't as painful as I thought.

While their answers were pretty much what I expected, I was surprised to see that fights via text and online are fairly common and something both my girls had experienced. I was also a little taken aback by how my 12-year-old was less than willing to tell us, her parents, about certain issues. And for the record I don't ever ask her about things in a "bad cheesy voice" and then write about it on my blog. Oh, alright maybe sometimes. Well, maybe kind of often. On a related note she's grounded for five months.

To start things off, relax, kick back, grab some popcorn and watch this intro video my 12-year-old made:

The Interview:

(I'll be referring to the girls as TWELVE and FOURTEEN. Don't worry – those aren't their real names. In real life they go by FIVE and SEVEN.)

Q: How many texts do you send in a day? Receive?

TWELVE: I send and receive around 30 texts a day. But each text isn't a long, droning conversation – it's more like "Hey" or "sup"

FOURTEEN: I probably send maybe ten texts per day and receive around fifty texts per day, majority of them being from Twitter.

Q: Do you only text people you know well?

TWELVE: I usually text my good friends most often, but I do text some people I don't know for homework questions or for some other reason.

FOURTEEN: I only text people I know well.  If I don't know them enough to trust them, they wouldn't have my phone number and I wouldn't have theirs.

Q: If you had something extremely important/personal to share with a close friend how would you contact them and why that way? (In person, on the phone, text, or all three?) 

TWELVE: It depends where I am and how important it is. If I'm at school I'd usually tell them there, but if I'm home I'd just text them if it's important. But if the text is personal then I'd probably just wait till school to tell them, or tell them to delete the text after since some of my friend's moms check their texts.

And I NEVER use the phone because my parents can hear in the other room, so if it's personal I wouldn't really want them overhearing. If I did my mom would say "So who's your friend you were talking to?" in a bad cheesy voice, as well as making little comments after, then write about all of it on her blog. No offense mom! *nervous laughing*

[Editor's note: Hahahahaha! See 'grounded' joke above.]

FOURTEEN: I would probably call them unless I knew I was going to be meeting them in person very soon for another reason. If there's a lot to say and I have the chance to call them and talk to them on the phone I'd rather do that than through text messages.

Q: Have you ever been bullied or harassed through a text? If so, how did you respond? Did you tell your parents about it?

TWELVE: Well my friends and I joke a lot, so I don't think that counts. But I usually don't go up to bullies and give them my number so I haven't really been harrassed by text.

FOURTEEN: I don't remember ever being bullied or harassed through text messages. But if I ever was, I probably would tell my parents about it.

Q: Have you ever had a fight or argument via text or online?

TWELVE: YES. YES. YES. YES. That actually happens quite often.

FOURTEEN:  I've gotten into "heated arguments" via text I suppose, but I've only gotten into "fights" online, I would say. 

Q: If so, how was it resolved? 

TWELVE: Well, it depends who's fault the fight is. If it's their fault I kinda guilt them into saying sorry. But if it's my fault, I'd probably say let's just forget it and move on, and then we're friends again. And If it's a small fight then I'd usually solve it over the interwebs, but if it's big and involves grudges, I'd probably solve it at school.

[Editor's note: TWELVE, please see me after the interview for tips on how to say, "I'm sorry."]

FOURTEEN: The online "fights" usually just died down quickly, since most of them took place when I was much younger.  We pretty much would just ignore one another.  I remember once, my close friends stepped in on the fight online and stood up for me, which made a big difference.

Q: Do you ever send texts to your friends that are of an extremely private nature, meaning it would be HORRIBLE if it was leaked to your friends? 

TWELVE: Sometimes, like texts about people we know. But now I've gotten into the habit of using code-names so that if anyone saw it that's not in my circle of close friends no one would know who we were talking about. But even if we used their real names and  the wrong people saw the texts, it wouldn't be HORRIBLE more like embarrassing or awkward. If it's really that HORRIBLE I'd rather just tell them in person.

FOURTEEN: Yes, I do send private texts to friends, but nothing too drastic. Just things like maybe crushes or saying something about someone. It would be kind of bad for it to be leaked, though.

Q: If you knew that one of your friends was sending inappropriate photos of him/her self to someone, would you say something to them? Would you tell your parents? 

TWELVE: Yeah, if it was one of my good friends. I'm not sure I'd tell my parents though because it's not really any of their business, plus that'd just be a weird, awkward discussion. But I'd make sure they'd stop, I can usually talk my friends out of almost anything if I care enough.

[Editor's note: IT IS SO OUR BUSINESS.]

FOURTEEN: I would DEFINITELY say something to them. I don't think I'd be able to live with the fact that one of my friends was doing that. If they didn't stop even after I had told them to several times, I would possibly tell my parents since it could turn into a serious issue.

[Editor's note: FOURTEEN, listen to your sister.]

Q: Would YOU ever send an inappropriate or intimate picture of yourself to someone via text? If yes, how would you feel if they shared it with someone else - or many someone elses, including lots of people you do know, and lots of people you don't know?

TWELVE: No, ew! That'd be weird. And slutty.

FOURTEEN: I would never even THINK about sending an inappropriate photo of myself to someone else, even if they were my HUSBAND.  I know how that stuff usually ends.

[Editor's note: Hahahahaha! Looks like everyone is TRYING TO GET GROUNDED TODAY.]

Q: If you were giving advice to a younger sibling or a younger friend who was just starting to text, what kind of warnings would you give him/her about being safe and smart?

TWELVE: I'd say not to text alot, and then freak them out by telling about this thumb disease you can get from texting too much. And that you shouldn't text random strangers, and not to text when driving your big wheel.

FOURTEEN: I would tell them to only give their phone numbers to people who they trust, obviously not to "sext," and to not text or respond to texts from anyone they do not know or do not know well.

Q: Here's a question for FOURTEEN only, who will driving in two short years. [Interviewer stops to dry her eyes.] What do you think it would take for you to stop texting/checking email/dialing the phone WHILE driving? Money? A written contract w/Parents? A pact between friends? Etc?  

FOURTEEN: I don't think it would take much for me NOT to do that. I don't think I would be texting or e-mailing while driving, anyway. Calling, MAYBE, but only if it's using a hands-free device. If I had to stop talking on the phone at ALL while driving, I would probably need some sort of alert that would go off when I tried to call someone or receive a call while driving, reminding me NOT to do it.

Can we got to Starbucks now?

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Have you had a conversation with your teen or tween about texting, sexting and safety? If not, what's holding you back?

As before, BlogHer will match LG’s donation of .50 to for every comment on this post, so please leave a comment with your thoughts on this topic – will get $1.00 for each and every one.

You can see a roundup of other participating bloggers' posts on the BlogHer/LG Text-Ed page.

Thanks to everyone who left a comment with a question suggestion on my last post, not only for helping me out but for helping out as well! 

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NorCal Sistah said...

OMG!! That made me LOL several times -- probably with each of your 12-year olds answers -- and then your "editor notes". HILARIOUS but informative in learning the way kids think. Thanks for sharing and I hope this motivates other parents to have this important discussion with their children! Well done M!

SoCalLibrarian said...

You've done very well with 5 and 7! I love the line about not to text while on your big wheel.

I've taken to putting my phone on the back seat so I don't get tempted to make calls whilst driving. trying to set an example for my 8 and her sisters.

Amy Anderson said...

Nice work editor. Those girls have good heads on their shoulders. By the time my 3 is their age, kids will have video phone chips implanted on ther corneas so it's going to be a whole new interview.

Michelle Wolfson said...

FIVE/Twelve sounds like a handful!
They both sound great actually but these issues scare the crap out of me. I'm not ready to deal with them but even though my kids are 5 and 2, it's probably sooner than I think.

Already my husband and I have talked about not texting/tweeting/checking email so much when we are with the kids. I want time with them to be phone free to set a good example.

Good job! Great interview! Thanks for sharing.

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