Making Sense

Responsible Text Messaging Tips

Avoid texting troubles by laying down guidelines for responsible text messaging.
Caroline Knorr Parenting Editor | Mom of one Categories: Cell phone parenting
Parenting Editor | Mom of one

Texting is becoming the #1 form of communication

If you’ve ever stared in awe at your child’s thumbs moving furiously over her phone’s keyboard, you’ve probably wondered how she does it so quickly, and why it’s her favorite form of communication. Kids text because it lets them feel connected and feel as if they can have a private moment with a friend, no matter where they are or what else they’re doing.

Billions of text messages are sent every year from our kids’ mobile phones. While most kids use messaging responsibly, it’s still a powerful and extremely private communication tool that can be used irresponsibly. With texting, kids can’t see the reaction of the person receiving the message, so their actions can be separated from the consequences. Young people can be cruel, and their judgment and impulse control are not yet fully developed. If a text exchange becomes unpleasant, it can be very hurtful or even dangerous to their well being.

Why understanding texting matters

Texting is totally portable, private, and immediate. Kids can send messages to anyone from anywhere at anytime. In other words, they have no boundaries unless we help them to establish some. Almost no research has been done on the impact of immediate communication on kids’ social development.

But the instant gratification factor of getting immediate responses from friends has to have some affect. Any parent who has been at the dinner table or on a hike with a child only to hear a pocket buzz with an incoming message knows that texts take your kids out of the moment they are in and connect them to distant friends.

Texts can be used to keep friends close, help parents figure out family logistics, and offer a wonderful way to share experiences. But, as with any powerful tool, texting can also be used to bully or humiliate people. An embarrassing or upsetting image or video can quickly be transmitted or uploaded to an online video sharing site like YouTube. Sexting is a form of texting where kids send or receive graphic images or messages. According to a study from CosmoGirl, 22% of teen girls have sent or posted these kinds of images. And, sadly, the use of texting in school cheating is on the rise as answers can be swiftly passed from student to student.

Kids need to know that abusing the privilege of texting has consequences.

Advice for parents

  • Carefully evaluate whether or not your kids need texting on their cell phones. Just because other kids in their class have it doesn’t mean your child needs it.
  • If your kids do text, get an unlimited texting plan. Otherwise the charges mount up swiftly.
  • Make rules around when and where. No texting during meals, during class, on family outings. Oh, and turn the phone OFF at night!
  • No texting while they should be concentrating on something else. This includes driving –nearly half of teens admit to texting while driving – walking, and having a conversation with someone else. Firm rules about this will ensure their safety as well as their social skills.
  • Establish consequences for misuse. Cheating, inappropriate messages, sexual communication. These are all no-go’s. Want to make your point? Take your kid’s phone away for a week.
  • Watch your own behavior. Parents are still models for their kids. If you text your child during class and then turn around and tell that child that he or she can’t do that, you’re sending mixed signals.
  • If you suspect your kids aren’t texting appropriately, you can always look at their messages. Yes, it feels like snooping, but our first job as parents is to ensure that our kids use powerful technologies safely and responsibly.

 

What rules do you have for texting in your house?

About Caroline Knorr

As Common Sense Media's parenting editor, Caroline helps parents make sense of what’s going on in their kids' media lives. From games to cell phones to movies and more, if you're wondering "what’s the right age for... Read more

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Comments (12)

I don't know on an iPhone but if you both can get iMessage you can sign in as her and then you will get her texts at the same time as she does
Text messaging is getting serious problems for kids these days.They are spending much time texting then their studies. so we have to lookafter ours kid that they are going to right path to success < a href="https://www.msegat.com">مواقع لإرسال الرسائل
One thing not in the article that I think is worth knowing relates to the question of do your kids really "need" text messaging. With the worry of sending and receiving inappropriate pictures being a major concern of mine, I checked into how SMS and MMS texts work and found that for most, if not all cell phone companies, if you disable the data / Internet functions on the phone account through the carrier that that disables sending and receiving of all picture message functions. They can't even sneak a pic through e-mail... no data connections. This is how I ended the war between my two oldest of trying to get embarrassing pictures of each other to send to their friends.
I was naive and allowed my 12 year old unrestricted use of her phone. I quickly learned what a mistake that was. I got her an android phone and have since traded it in for a regular phone - I have limited her texting and the times which she can use her phone - she gets 2500 mins a month - period. When they are done they are done. She gets 500 talking minutes. I and several other family members are allowed to phone or text her whenever. I will reimburse her for our texts by giving them back to her in the form of minutes - I never want her to feel she doesn't want to waste her texts on me. She herself told me to take her phone away when I caught her texting a boy at 10:30 at night. I did for an entire week and have since limited everything. The thing we need to remember is they are kids and actually want limits - it is our job to make sure we give them. I made a mistake when she first got her phone and apologized to her. We are on the same page now - for the moment - about text limits and the reason for them.
Texting in school has become a huge problem. It becomes very difficult to enforce when parents complain and insist that their child's cell phone that was taken up in class be returned immediately. Cell phone companies need to make it as easy as possible and affordable for parents to monitor their children's texting activity to see if they are texting during class. Most students would never admit to it (unless their parents are OK with it) and most parents won't make the effort to check and easily prove or disprove their child regarding their texting practices.
There are some andriod apps I've read about that can be setup on your kids phone and password protected to keep them from removing the app or altering settings. Along with finding a lost phone, you can verify your child is where they said they'd be and get a copy of all incoming and sent text... In real time. If you can't find a workable app, send me a message and I can see about writing one.
There are some andriod apps I've read about that can be setup on your kids phone and password protected to keep them from removing the app or altering settings. Along with finding a lost phone, you can verify your child is where they said they'd be and get a copy of all incoming and sent text... In real time. If you can't find a workable app, send me a message and I can see about writing one.