Cingular Wireless is trying to bridge this gap. The company, the largest cellphone carrier in the United States, will hold a series of interactive “texting bees” around the country early next year to teach parents how to send text messages to their children. The promotion is a way to increase sales, of course. But the company contends that its campaign will help parents get to know their sons and daughters by teaching them teenage slang and the advantages of texting over making phone calls, sending e-mail or simply having a conversation.
That’s from a New York Times article that was published yesterday. (A Parent’s Guide to Teenspeak) It talked about parents not knowing how to read teen text messages, and it also looked at whether or not parents should be up on what their teens are saying via texting. Educators weighed in on whether or not children and teens should be able to have their own language via texting as a way to retain privacy and individuate. Others said that parents should know so they understand what their teens are doing.
As I read the article I thought this is exactly the kind of thing that librarians are trying to work through with teens and their parents. How far do we go to support teen interests by being a part of those interests. How much do we stay away so teens have the chance to have some privacy and individuality? Is it OK to learn the technology in order to understand what’s going on with teenagers as long as we don’t over-step and usurp that technology? And, then of course, there’s the question, shouldn’t librarians be teaching parents about text messaging instead of Cingular doing the teaching? Or, shouldn’t librarians work with cell phone companies to help them teach parents?