Delaney Ruston is a coproducer of the documentary Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age. The film explores the many struggles students have with social media, cell phones, video games, academics, and internet addiction. This article originally appeared on screenagersmovie.com.
Your kid is at school, and something pops into your head that you want to tell them—plans for dinner have changed, the doctor appointment tomorrow is confirmed, you love them, etc. What do you do? Do you send the text right when the thought comes or hold off?
A while back, I was more apt to text right away. Given the lenient phone policies of my teens’ schools in the past, I knew they were receiving snaps and texts from peers all day long, so why would my occasional text make a difference?
Then my daughter’s high school changed its policy to “Away For The Day” during class time, and I started thinking differently. The school is working hard to have teens put their attention toward school—teachers are doing an excellent job of requiring phones be put away in classes. So even though students can check devices at lunch, I realized I no longer wanted to add to the things my daughter would feel she had to think about or respond to.
Also, I am a big believer in working hard to teach my daughter and son (and myself) to continually be better planners. The less we rely on our phones as the escape route for changing plans, the more we work together to get our plans organized outside of school time. So I’ve really started to “Hold That Text.”
This idea is important in schools that have 100% Away For The Day policies, where phones are put in lockers or backpacks for the whole day. A text during the school day implies we want them to see it, even if we know we don’t expect them to see it until after school. Why give them these mixed messages?
Hold That Text isn’t only about when kids are at school. After a talk I gave recently to a conference of health care providers, a woman came up to me and said how, now that she has joint custody of her kids with her ex-husband, her time with them is that much more precious. She has ensured she gets at least one hour of alone time a week with each of them. And her kids know that during this time, she’ll only answer texts and calls from her other kids. And they don’t like when their time is interrupted, so they all work to not text mom during those times.
Related: Is Social Media Holding You Back?
I must confess that the hardest part of Hold That Text is that I truly fear I will lose the thought completely. I am getting better at using the Notes app on my phone to dictate the idea and set an alarm to go off after school hours. I know this seems like a lot of work versus just sending my daughter the text, but holding the text feels good each time I do it.