Constant Texting: Healthy or Not?

The surveys students complete before and after each visit are an important aspect of the Parenting: It’s a Life (PIAL) program. More recently, PIAL has changed the wording and format on the survey questions we distribute to students to make them easier to navigate. When analyzing the PIAL data, one of the graduate research assistants Dr. Feng Zhao noticed some questions were not easy for students to understand. We worked over this past summer to shorten passages and eliminate extra wording that might have confused students.

One question that students found difficult to answer correctly was from Module 3: Healthy Relationships. The question read: Which of the following characteristics are considered healthy in a relationship? (Choose all that apply)

The options included:

A. Constant Texting

B. Trust

C. Jealousy

D. Compromise

The correct answer was “B. Trust,” but it was clear many students thought constant texting could also be considered a correct answer choice even though the PIAL facilitators presented constant texting as abnormal to make sure students know it is an unhealthy and obsessive behavior in most cases. This prompted a discussion among our team on the reasons why so many students thought this way. We ended up coming to the consensus that students may perceive “constant texting” as a method of showing you care for someone in a relationship. Additionally, parents might text their children a lot or vice versa, and we did not specify the type of relationship within our question for students to consider. While there are some instances it may be warranted, most of the time it is used to monitor or track the other person within the relationship to an extent that is unjustifiable in a relationship built on freedom and trust. The survey edits encouraged lots of great discussion among our team members and helped us better understand the ways students perceive and interpret our modules.

Additionally, we are very grateful to all our teachers we visit for sending out PIAL’s Pre-Visit survey prior to us presenting in their classrooms. It’s a huge deal to be able to see knowledge growth of students after they are presented our modules. Previously, students only filled out a survey after completing the module, but now with the implementation of a “before” and “after” format we are able to research the change over time in student’s knowledge, which helps inform how the PIAL program can improve in the future.

by Madeline Robinson