By Steven Steinberg
By 2015, an unprecedented 5 billion people will be using cell phones.
Teens, some 75% of whom now own cell phones, have quickly adapted to text messaging as their preferred channel of basic communication. As advanced cell phone features become more common – such as the ability to surf the Internet, record and exchange pictures and video, play games, e-mail, and participate on social networking sites — mobile communication is bridging the digital divide for millions of America’s youngsters and their parents.
A report by the Pew Research Center reveals that texting among teens has grown dramatically in the past 18 months with a record 88% of teen cell phone users now regularly using their mobile devices to message friends. Nearly a third of teen texters send more than 100 messages a day; over 3,000 messages monthly.
The report shows many parents lagging behind when it comes to staying connected with their teenagers through text messaging.
Experience with thousands of teens in South Florida schools over the past decade led PAIRS Foundation to recently develop an innovative “next practice” to deliver relationship building skills to teens, parents, and couples via cell phones, the Internet, and the leading social networking site, Facebook.
Within weeks of releasing PAIRS DTR (“Daily Temperature Reading”) via iTunes to encourage teens and parents to exchange daily appreciations, updates, questions, concerns, and hopes via their mobile devices, thousands downloaded the free iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad application. Once users tap out text in each of these five areas vital to staying connected, they can watch their relationship temperature rise as they share information via cell phones, e-mail, or posts to Facebook.
Research shows that communication is key to building and sustaining strong families. PAIRS DTR helps parents and teens who are eagerly embracing new technology stay connected with each other.
PAIRS DTR, in English and Spanish, is currently available for free on iTunes.
PAIRS Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is one of the world’s oldest and leading relationship skills training organizations. In 2006, PAIRS received a multi-million dollar, multi-year federal grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, to deliver marriage education and relationship skills classes to high school students and adults in South Florida. To date, more than 5,000 people have participated, including more than 1,000 teens and adults through Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach County Public Schools.