Years ago there was a television ad with this warning: "It's 10 p.m. Parents, do you know where your children are?" A modern version of that could be: "It's 2 a.m. Parents, do you know who your child is texting?"
Recently a friend of mine, who is a family physician, told me that he had seen a large increase in recent months of young teenagers being brought to him by their mothers for the condition of "always being tired." Apparently the parents were concerned that the children were not able to get out of bed on time in the morning, listen in school or respond to parents like they should.
In every case this doctor prescribed keeping the cell phones away from the teens after bedtime. Apparently most of the parents did not realize that their teens were sending text messages to friends for hours each night when their parents thought they were asleep. As a result, they were sleep-deprived, a cause of a number of health problems in addition to sluggishness.
When the parents confiscated the cell phones at bedtime, the health of the texters improved.
The modern marvel of sending text messages has taken the teenage generation by storm. According to a recent survey, 84 percent of U.S. teenagers have their own cellular phone, and the average teen sends and receives 3,000 messages a month—an average of 100 a day.
The next addiction
There are more and more accounts of texting becoming the next addiction for our society. One definition of an addiction is a habit that becomes a preoccupation and interferes with normal activities such as eating, sleeping and communication. Texting certainly can fit that definition. We have all probably been near a teen who is concentrating so much on rapidly sending text messages that he or she shuts out the world around him or her for a considerable period of time.
Sending a blizzard of text messages all day long and into the night may seem harmless at first, but a recent study in the United Kingdom concluded that lack of sleep during the teen years may result in a lessened mental capacity and perhaps mental illness in later years.
MailOnline reported on Sept, 1, 2010, "Lack of sleep may help explain the puzzling increase in mental illness among young people in recent decades, according to an extensive study."
The latest causes for this rampant lack of sleep in teens can be attributed to social networking sites on the Internet and cellular phones, which have become the most cherished possession of the young generation.
The conclusion is remarkable: "The study of about 20,000 young people aged between 17 and 24 found that those who slept fewer than five hours a night were three times more likely than normal sleepers to become psychologically distressed in the next year."
So there is evidence that all of this late-night texting and Internet networking may result not just in sluggishness and lack of energy, but also in mental illness.
Part of the parenting job
Monitoring cell phone use should be part of the job of parenting. After all, parents are still the parents and are likely paying for the cell phones and monthly charges. Parents obviously cannot assume that their teens will have the wisdom and self-control to know when it is time to quit sending messages and get some healthy sleep.
A wise man who lived about three thousand years ago wrote for us, "A child left to himself brings shame to his mother" (Proverbs 29:15 Proverbs 29:15The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself brings his mother to shame.
American King James Version×) and "foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child" (Proverbs 22:15 Proverbs 22:15Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
American King James Version×). King Solomon knew nothing about cell phones, but a great deal about people.
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