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Texting and Cell Phone Etiquette for Tweens

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Girl (10-11) texting on mobile phone
Compassionate Eye Foundation/Rob Daly/OJO Images Ltd/Digital Vision/Getty Images
Tweens want to text message one another, and if your child has a cell phone, text messaging is just part of the deal. But text messaging does have a dark side, and tweens need to understand that their messages and their behaviors shouldn't turn crass, rude, or mean. Below are a few finer lessons your child should know about text messaging and cell phone manners, and communicating with one another without sacrificing their character.

Simple Rules for Text Messaging and Cell Phone Etiquette

  • Tweens should understand that text messaging shouldn't take the place of one-on-one interaction with their friends. If you want your child to bond with his friends encourage that they spend time together.
  • Tweens should keep text messages short and to-the-point. If a "conversation" goes on for more than a few minutes, encourage your tween to pick-up the phone and continue the conversation that way.
  • Tweens should understand that they should never, ever, text one friend while they're spending time with another. That's rude and can make for hurt feelings. Text messaging and phone etiquette requires tweens to think about how their actions make other people feel.
  • Teach your tween to refrain from texting a friend when they're in a fight or are angry with one another. Ask your child to wait until she's calmed down, and then encourage her to work things out in person or over the phone.
  • Tweens should know that sometimes text messages are misunderstood because the recipient of the message can't see the sender's facial expressions or hear her tone of voice. Jokes and sarcastic comments may cause hard feelings if they're passed along in a text message.
  • Tweens should know that they should never give bad news in a text message. ("I heard our soccer coach quit!")
  • Tweens should understand that they are responsible for what they text to other people. Teach your child to refrain from gossiping about others, trashing others, and being unkind in general.
  • It will be a few years before your tween is behind the wheel of a car, but teach him that he should never text and drive. In the meantime, he should also know that he shouldn't text when he's engaged in other activities that require his full attention, such as bike riding, skate boarding, or in situations when he needs to be aware of what is going on around him.
  • Your child should refrain from texting in class, at church, at dinner, at the movies, at a friend's birthday party, at a funeral, or in other public settings. The same applies if your family is going out for a nice meal or is involved in a family activity together.
  • Texting should be regarded as a privilege, and your tween should know that bad behavior will result in the loss of that privilege. Remind your tween that part of the responsibility of using a cell phone is following cell phone etiquette rules. That's a responsibility of growing up.
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