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Today's tech: How kids communicate in and out of school

Whitney Coy is a freelance writer and editor based in Columbus, OH, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She writes frequently for SheKnows, as well as several other websites. She writes on topics including parenting, trav...

Tech that gets kids talking

Forget about face-to-face conversations. Phone calls and emails are even a thing of the past. Today’s kids are using technology to communicate with each other in ways that we never even dreamed of when we were their age.

teens texting on cell phone

Text messages

Parents, weigh your options carefully when choosing a cell phone plan. That unlimited text plan may be expensive, but it’s probably worth it if you have a teenager at home.

Kids are getting cell phones at younger and younger ages, but they rarely use them to make phone calls. Instead, kids, tweens and teens are using cell phones mostly for texting. In fact, Neilsen Mobile, who tracks cell phone usage, says the average teen sends and receives more than 3,000 text messages every month. Conversations through text are much shorter than those conducted in person, and they’re filled with little snippets of information and emoticons.

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Most schools still don’t allow cell phone use in classrooms, but you can bet many teens find ways around that rule. No more passing notes in class -- kids are sneaking texts instead.

Social networking

Anything they aren’t texting to each other, they’re probably posting on each other’s walls. Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus make it easier to get a message out to a lot of people at once, and to get a response almost instantly. Kids tag themselves in photos, and let everyone know where they are and who they’re with at all times using these tools.

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Some of the appeal of these sites is that kids can create what their friends can see. You present only what you want others to know about, and anything else can be deleted or untagged. Sites like Facebook and Twitter let you present any public persona you want, which isn’t usually an option in real life.

Thanks to smart phones and mobile apps, you don’t even need to sit down at a computer to access these technologies. Kids are able to update their status and tweet about their teacher while they’re still sitting in class.

Video chat

Believe it or not, kids are using technology to get in a little face time -- but’s it’s not actually face-to-face. Sites like Skype allow users to chat with each other using webcams on computers and cameras on mobile phones.

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She can’t wait to show her friend her new outfit? She’ll probably Skype it. He can’t go to sleep without seeing his new girlfriend just one more time? He’ll probably Skype her before he goes to bed tonight.

Technologies like this are popular with teenagers because they have the desire to be with their friends a lot more than their schedules (or parents or transportation issues) will usually allow. Skype lets them converse like they’re right in front of each other, but they can really be anywhere in the world.

Share with us!

What technology can your kid not get enough of? Let us know in the comments below!

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