We know that texting is an important form of communication. Even we adults sometimes struggle to make sure we put our phone down while driving and concentrate on the road. As such, it is no surprise that our children have the same struggle. The difference is that young drivers do not have the experience that can help older, more experienced drivers, navigate this balance. Most of the time, that experience helps us have the strength to ignore our phone. Our teens may not have this same level of self control.
So, how can we as parents help to set our kids up for success when they drive? The following tips can help reduce the risk that they are tempted to text while behind the wheel.
#1: Talk about it.
Open communication is an important part of parenting teens. As our children get older, we have less and less control over how they spend their time and the decisions they make when out on their own. This is an important and age appropriate part of growing up — but that does not make it any easier on parents.
One way we can help our kids make good choices is by having proactive conversations about struggles and difficult situations. This holds true for texting and driving. Our teens have likely heard through driver’s ed courses and sessions at school the dangers of texting and driving. Ask them what they know. Ask what they think. This type of conversation may bring you both peace of mind and provide an opportunity for you to explain your expectations. Afterall, our kids are generally driving vehicles we pay for and under our insurance company. If they do not follow our rules, we can easily take away the privilege.
#2: Tech tools can help.
Want to keep your kid safe from texting and driving? There’s an app for that. It may sound in jest, but there are apps that can lock out the texting feature of a phone when it senses it is in a vehicle in motion. These apps often allow for emergency calls and music access, targeting only the texting feature of the phone.
#3: Prepare them for difficult conversations with friends.
Unfortunately, even if our teen follows this rule their friends may not. This can mean our kids can find themselves in a situation where another driver is texting. We can help our children navigate this tricky social situation by giving them ideas on how to respond. They could offer to complete the text for the friend, ask them to stop, or choose to avoid riding with that friend in the future.
These tips are all part of an ongoing conversation. Taking the time to talk to our teens about these and other safe driving practices can help to reduce the risk of a crash.