Many parents might answer the above question by stating their teen texts to communicate. Parents of some teenage boys I know would say that their son communicates in monosyllables. And some parents would say that their daughter is chattering nonstop about trivial matters.
So how does your teen communicate? I think each of us parents should stop to think about this question - does our teen tell us what is going on, write to us (texts), or communicates nonverbally (facial expressions, withdrawing). Some teens might use a combination of ways in which to communicate with us. But we should figure out what our teen's primary source of communication is - because that is the mode in which he or she will best hear us when we need to communicate with them.
Another aspect of teen communication these days is that they communicate in sound bytes. Although this might be effective, the downside is that they don't take the time to notice nonverbal nuances in conversation. Surprisingly, I have found that some very bright teens don't pick up on changes in facial expression or change in tone of voice when they are communicating. Why is this significant? Because sometimes nonverbal communication gives big cues as to what is happening with another person - which could be quite important if the person with whom you are interacting is becoming angry and you are unaware of that. Your teen might find himself on the floor because he did not pick up on the fact that the guy he was talking to about some sports game felt insulted by the discussion.
Try this sometime - while watching television or a movie ask your teen what the character might be feeling when you are noting significant nonverbal communication. This might be a good teaching moment for your teen. We parents might not be as fast at texting, but we have a lot of experience at interpreting the full range of human communication.
Food for thought.
Debra Atkisson Kowalski, M.D.