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U R going to learn how to text message your kidsGeneration TextTapping into the Digital World Can Bridge the Parent-Child Divide 

By Anitra Ellison


For some, these letter and number combinations look like the cat walked across the keyboard, but this is the language that kids are speaking … well, texting.

Many of us are familiar with the commercial in which the mother and daughter discuss the cell phone bill in “text language.” (“TISNF! That is so not fair!”) While most parents can relate to a high cell phone bill, Dr. Ruth Peters, a clinical psychologist who has collaborated with AT&T, says texting is a discreet and meaningful way to communicate with your kids.

In a 2006 survey by Cingular Wireless, 64 percent of parents said it is easier to get ahold of their kids by texting, and 65 percent of parents who text-message said they communicate with their kids more often. AT&T has written a text message guide for parents, showing the benefits of texting with their kids and basic phrases.

Still apprehensive? If you’re worried about the already high cell phone bill getting even higher, many plans offer unlimited text messaging to family members.

However, there still is the issue of not being “text-savvy.” Most phones have predictive text that finishes a whole word as you type – great for those still trying to figure out what “LOL” (“laughing out loud”) means. If you’re squinting to see those tiny letters on that tiny screen, you even can send text messages over the Internet. Web sites such as smseverywhere.com allow you to send free text messages to anyone, regardless of his or her cell phone carrier.

Maddie Riley, a 16-year-old Leon High School student, has been texting her parents since she was in the seventh grade.

“We text each other when we can’t talk, like during school or when I’m babysitting,” she said. “I don’t text them as frequently as I do my friends.”

Texting your kids won’t take the place of spending quality time together or enjoying a nice family dinner, but it can get you quick answers to quick questions. For Maddie, texting is convenient, but it doesn’t take the place of talking.

“It’s easier to text if I’m busy or can’t talk, but if I want to talk to my parents, I’ll talk to them,” she said.

Texting is great for parents and kids juggling a different extracurricular activity Monday through Friday – and it’s an easy way to establish riding arrangements. On the other hand, parents always can text “UR GROUNDED” – and kids definitely will get the message.


Get Out, Get Active, Learn About Nature

By Anitra Ellison

Get your child off the couch and into nature by joining the Kids Nature Explore Club. Created by the National Arbor Day Foundation with help from the Dimensions Educational Research Foundation, the club is an interactive program for children ages 2 to 8 that helps them understand and appreciate nature. Members will go on adventures and have hands-on interaction with nature that can take place in any backyard or neighborhood park.

The $20 annual membership includes a discovery magnifying glass, a club clipboard, an activity binder and a personalized membership card, as well as 10 monthly activity packages.
For more information on the program, visit arborday.org/explore.


The Library Still Rocks

By Jason Dehart

Just because you can access the Internet from home doesn’t mean you no longer need a library. Quite the contrary. Modern libraries, such as the LeRoy Collins Leon County Public Library, are harnessing online technology to offer round-the-clock help for students struggling with homework, test prep and other projects.

The “Homework Help” section of the library’s Web site contains dictionaries, thesauruses, science and history fair resources, biographies, encyclopedias, access to other databases and links to Leon County schools. Go to leoncountyfl.gov/library and click on “Homework Help” under “Kids and Teens.”

Ah, but there’s more. The library’s Web site features a service called “Learning Express,” which offers a wide selection of interactive practice tests and tutoring courses designed not only for students but also for adult learners who want to succeed on academic or licensing tests. For more information, call the main library at (850) 606-2665 or visit leoncountyfl.gov/library.

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