Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Over Texted

My wife and I took our kids out to dinner last night to celebrate Son Number Three’s fourth birthday. On the way home, we stopped at Target because Son Number One wanted to buy a batting glove before his next baseball game. He and I went in to look for the glove while my wife stayed in the car with the other two boys, because when you don’t have to bring all three into the store, you don’t. You just don’t.

Number One and I found a suitable batting glove that fit a seven-year-old’s budget, checked out, and headed back to the car. When we got home, I pulled my phone out of my pocket and noticed that I had a missed call. From my wife. From 20 minutes ago. I was with her 20 minutes ago…?

“Honey, did you call me 20 minutes ago?”
“Yeah, when you were walking across the parking lot heading into Target. I was calling to tell you that you were going in the wrong door. You were going to the grocery side.”

Now, come on! That’s what we’re using our phones for now? I think that’s a little much. It’s not like if we went in the wrong door we were going to fall into a hidden tiger pit. Or be attacked by a swarm of angry bees. Those would be legitimate reasons why I would want you to call me and tell me not to go in that door. But calling me to warn me that we’re going to have to walk an extra 50 feet? That is getting a little out of hand with the cell phones, don’t you think?

When we got in the door at Target, I had no idea where the batting gloves would be. Did I stop and get my phone out to call or text someone and ask them where I should walk? Of course not. I’m a 39-year-old man. I looked around, pointed myself in a likely direction, started walking and read the signs. I was born in a time when the only phones we had were permanently attached to the wall.

Unfortunately, I fear we are raising a generation of teenagers who would actually stand inside the door of Target and text someone for assistance. Why? Because it’s easy, I guess. And the phone was already in their hand, where it resides all day.

 “at trgt.. omg so lost.. wer is sports stuf?”


If you are my age or older, try to imagine this scenario: When you were a teenager, you walked into Target, went over to the pay phone on the wall, put in a dime, called home, and asked your mom where the sporting goods aisle was. I’m not sure you would have been allowed to come home.

The fact that my wife has apparently started to use her phone more like a teenager than a 40-year-old had me worried, so I got online and looked up the last bill, curious about our respective texting habits.

Last month, I sent 138 texts. I was shocked. I considered that to be a lot. My wife, on the other hand, sent 592. That’s 20 per day. I can’t name one other activity, besides breathing, that I do 20 times per day.

The only people that were on the phone 20 times per day when I was a kid were stock traders and the 911 operator in the big city. Everyone else used the phone three times a day. Four max.

Because I was shocked at my wife’s text numbers, and because I knew that she was still probably way low compared to today’s youth, I looked up the national averages.


The average teenager these days sends 3,339 texts per month. The average teen girl sends 4,050 per month. That’s 135 per day. I don’t think I even breathe in and out that many times per day. They must have thumbs like ninjas.

The usage drops off astronomically, as you would expect, as the user group gets older. The 55-64-year-old crowd hardly texts at all, and the 65+ crowd apparently does not even know what a text is. Astonishingly, my wife is actually average for the 35-45 crowd. I am the slacker of my age group with only 138 texts per month. That worries me.

I am honestly concerned about this. I grew up without a cell phone, and I consider it to have been a tremendously successful upbringing. Today’s kids are growing up not only with a cell phone, but a cell phone constantly in their hands, constantly using it. When they are not sending one of their 135 texts for the day, they are checking to see if they have any texts from other people, checking to see what Shakira and Justin Bieber are up to, playing Angry Birds, updating their Facebook status to, “OMG did you just see what Justin Bieber just tweeted?”, and then sending another nine OMG texts. Seriously, watch a teenager for two minutes. If they do not look at their phone in that two minutes, they are either asleep or dead.

There is the exact same number of minutes in the day today as there was when I was growing up, and I assume teenagers still have to do homework, so what activity that was prevalent in my youth is losing out to all this screen time today? I don’t know for sure, but my guess is it’s the one that was instrumental in the development of social skills, concentration, patience, problem solving skills, and common sense. All traits that I see on the decline with today’s youth.

We have to ask ourselves this very important question: As a society, do we really want to be raising kids who can’t make toast, multiply fractions, or find their own shoes if the battery dies on their phone? Think about it, people. OMG!

One thing is for sure. If my kids ever text me from Target asking where to find something, I will text them back this message: “removing u from cell phone plan now L

See you soon,


Copyright © 2012 Marc Schmatjen

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