Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Txt 2 Stay in Touch

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Txt 2 Stay in Touch

Article excerpt

About a year ago, my daughter and I had breakfast before moving her into an off-campus apartment. Suddenly, my phone made a trilling sound I'd never heard before so I looked at it.

"There's a picture of an envelope here," I said to Courtney.

"That's because you got a text," she said. "It's from Daddy."

I asked her to read it.

"He wants to know if you arrived safely," she said. "Go ahead, text him back."

I handed her the phone. "You do it. Tell him I'm fine."

She gave me a look of kind pity. "You don't know how to text, do you?"

"Sure I do," I said. "I just don't have that kind of time."

I was not being ironic. I couldn't text "What did you do this weekend?" to one of my children without producing something like this: "whgt (backspace) dgdwmt (backspace) dm (backspace) tggpweejeme@."

And that would make me want to open the door and throw my cellphone into the woods.

But as many parents have found, it's worth learning to text if we want to stay in touch with kids after they've gone to college.

Sure, you can call your son's or daughter's cellphone and leave an urgent message, or you can send an e-mail, capitalize the subject, and include exclamation points - but you'll still be waiting to hear back.

If you text, however, you'll get an immediate answer.

So I realized that I had to get on this texting train. And after I did, I began to understand the intrigue of texting.

What I noticed is that it's more efficient than anything else, and it's also less risky.

Nobody texts long, late-night messages full of lengthy, emotional dissertation. Nobody's tone is misconstrued in a text full of lowercase characters and missing punctuation.

And, of course, texting generates a quick response - something our children have been conditioned to expect.

I knew that if I could text, my daughters or son would be saying to whoever they were with, "Wait," while they looked at their phone and stopped to send back at least a couple of characters. …

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