Texting Etiquette

Does your child understand texting etiquette?

  • Jenny sleeps with her phone next to her bed. It buzzes all night long as her friends send text messages into the wee hours of the night.
  •  Sarah is offended by a text from her BFF so she unfollows her on Instagram, starting a chain of nasty messages and hurt feelings.
  • Sam is ready to throw out his cell phone. He’s at his wits end about the number of group texts his friends have included him in and the volume of messages he receives.
  • Matt is fed up with the number of texts he receives as well. Several girls from school text him repeatedly before he even has a chance to respond and he is frustrated!
  • Krissy, Macy and Angela start a private group text at a slumber party that sparks hurt feelings amongst the girls who are excluded.
  • Alisha never puts her cell phone away. At restaurants, family get-togethers and while hanging out with her friends, it’s always out and she’s always quick to respond to her incoming texts.
  • Johnny is surprised and embarrassed when his girlfriend takes a screen shot of his romantic text and posts it to her Instagram account.

Do these situations sound familiar?

One of our challenges as parents is helping our kids develop what I like to call: Texting Etiquette. (Which of course applies to emails, posts and all forms of digital communication.)

As parents, it’s important to take the time to talk to our kids about social etiquette when using technology and how to handle it when they feel offended or upset by messages they receive.

  1. Just like they shouldn’t call someone on the phone repeatedly, kids need to learn that they shouldn’t text repeatedly without receiving a response. I’ve heard from many kids who feel annoyed by the volume of messages they receive.
  1. Kids also need guidance with how to handle arguments that develop via text or posts. Often times they fire back right away or “unfriend” or “unfollow” the person they are upset with. This typically escalates the tension. Instead, talk to your child about coming to you if they are upset about messages they’ve received. Encourage them to take time to “cool off” before responding, since often times they handle these situations much better after a breather. Also encourage them to handle disagreements in-person, instead of via text.
  1. Avoid creating group texts. Once kids add their friends to group messages, they cannot remove themselves. This can be very frustrating since the number of texts can be high and the interruptions excessive. If parents are monitoring their child’s text messages via the cloud, they can be flooded with messages as well.
  1. Have a bedtime for devices. Allowing kids to have their devices in their bedrooms can create lots of problems. They often text late into the night or are disturbed by incoming messages. Just like it’s impolite to phone someone late at night, the same rules should apply to text messages.
  1. Encourage your kids to talk face-to-face for lengthy conversations. If the message is longer than a few words a phone call is more effective.
  1. Set guidelines about texting when they are with other people. Encourage them to put their phones away and enjoy being with their friends. Just because their phone dings, they don’t have to interrupt what they are doing to respond.
  1. Create situations where your kids are device-free. Since texting is now the number one way young people communicate outside of the classroom, many kids are not learning good social skills. Kids need time together without technology, so they can develop strong interpersonal skills.
  1. Since nonverbal communication is eliminated with text messages (expression, tone, etc.) kids need our guidance looking at their messages and talking about whether or not they could be misinterpreted. By using emoticons, and adding “pleases” and “thank yous”, many messages are received as intended.
  1. Even though text messages are not truly private (they can so easily be shared and forwarded) teach kids to treat their messages as private and not share them without permission from the sender.

Just like kids need guidance learning how to be polite and respectful in-person they need our help learning how to communicate responsibly electronically.

What challenges have you seen with kids and their “Texting Etiquette?” What’s worked for you? I’d love to hear from you! Comment below and share your stories. We can all learn from each other.