Text messaging is a convenient way to communicate but like all technology there is also a dark side. Texting can be used to bully or humiliate people. Embarrassing images or videos can quickly be transmitted or uploaded to online photo and video sharing sites. Sexting is a form of texting where kids take sexually revealing pictures of themselves and send them as text message attachments. The use of texting in school cheating is on the rise as answers can be quickly passed from student to student.
Because so many kids have cell phones and use text messaging as their main mode of communication it is important to help them understand the consequences of abusing the technology. Discuss with them how to handle situations of bulling or harassment and encourage them to talk to you about situations that make them uncomfortable.
Here are some Parent Tips from Common Sense Media that can help you as parents keep your children safe while using Text Messaging:
- 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!
- Establish consequences for misuse. Cheating, inappropriate messages, sexual communication. These are all no-go's. Want to make your point? Take a kid's phone away for a week.
- Watch your own behavior. Parents are still kids' playbooks for right and wrong. If you text your kid during class and then turn around and tell that child that he or she can't do that, you send mixed messages.
- If you suspect your kids are not texting appropriately, you can always look at their messages. Yes, it feels like snooping, but our first job as parents is to ensure our kids use powerful technologies safely and responsibly.
Responsible Text Messaging Tips
Tips on how to text responsibly by Common Sense Media.
Talking About "Sexting"
When people take sexually revealing picture of themselves and send them as text message attachments, it's called "sexting." Find out how to help you kids avoid sexting from Common Sense Media.
These abbreviations are used in IM - Instant Messages, Chat Rooms, Short Message Service (SMS), Text Messages, and Email by TechDictionary.com.