"Emergency Texts" Keep Teens Awake All Night

Quick: who do you think are "on call" all day and all night? If you say emergency room physicians, you're only half right: nowadays, there are teenagers that stay up all night answering "emergency texts."

Brookline 10th-grader Ashley Olafsson sleeps with her cellphone under her pillow so she doesn’t miss “emergency’’ texts — “like if a friend broke up with her boyfriend.’’ Stephanie Kimball of Waltham, 14, is also available for urgent overnight correspondence, such as, “Hey, seeing if you’re awake.’’ Dedham ninth-grader Courtney Johnson gets as many as 100 texts while in bed. “I just don’t feel like myself if I don’t have my phone near me or I’m not on it,’’ she said.

Sure, all that middle-of-the-night communication leaves them tired, but as Olafsson explained, “It’s impolite not to respond if someone is coming to you with their problems.’’

With teenagers sending and receiving an average of 3,276 texts per month in the last quarter of 2010, according to the most recent statistics from the Nielsen Co., it’s no wonder that Michael Rich, director of Children’s Hospital Boston’s Center on Media and Child Health, is starting to see young patients who come in exhausted by being “on call’’ or semi-alert all night as they wait for their phones to vibrate or ring with a text.

He and his patients’ parents were initially baffled by the children’s increased sleepiness because bedtimes hadn’t changed, he said. “Who would think to ask a kid, ‘Do you sleep with your phone under your pillow?’ To us, it sounds like torture.’’

Yes, that's right: the average teenagers send and receive 3,276 texts per month! Link

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I keep my phone in bed. (I'm 30.) However, text updates from Twitter turn off at 1 am and don't turn back on until 7, and all my friends know that if I'm asleep, driving, or at work, I won't respond to texts. (I will, however, check my texts if I do happen to be awake in the middle of the night, refueling my car, or if I need 30 seconds to breathe before going on to the next task at work.

Kids these days need schooling in setting reasonable expectations for their availability, and setting reasonable boundaries on what's an emergency.

I'm not discounting the urgent nature of emotional support after a breakup, or whatever -- one's sense of proportion at that age is not calibrated yet, and it does indeed seem like the end of the world -- but there's a point where my good night's sleep is more important than someone else's survivable bad day, since I'm going to have a really bad day tomorrow otherwise, and sleep-deprived driving is at least as bad as drunk driving.
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Another point is that kids tell me that text conversations actually never end because it is "impolite" not to respond, so one word messages will go back and forth for literally DAYS on end.
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I am a 15 year old without a cell phone, and my brother and sister who are 14 and 17 respectively don't own one either. I actually am very happy that I don't own a phone because all my friends tell me that it is a waste of both money and time to hate having to constantly attend to your friends' every need (for example, "what's up?" and "I'm bored") I feel like my generation grows up believing that they are the most important people in the world. It really makes me sick that when kids post a facebook status or tweet (which I also don't participate in), they assume all their 458 "friends" drop everything and run to their computers to absorb the full effect of their "going to the orthodontist" message.

I've had a lot of discussion about this, and a large number of my peers tell me that cell phones are their teddy bears. Some kids I know start uncontrollably sobbing or hyperventilating if they are seperated from their phone for longer than 15 minutes. I even know kids whose cell phones MUST be in their view AT ALL TIMES or they threaten with law suits and violence. I am surprised that the average number of texts per day is only 100. I would expect at least 200 for the kids at my school anyways.
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It's impolite not to respond to someone's text? How about it's impolite to wake me up in the middle of the damn night with your self-involved lunacy?

But, yes, a friend of mine is a middle-school teacher and he reports that it's considered a major dis if one kid texts a simple "hey" and the recipient doesn't respond in kind. Feuds start this way.
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@Warre Mass:
"A REAL thank-you note, hand-written, and sent in the mail."

The Society for keeping Buggy Whips alive called - they'd love for you to be their guest speaker.
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