Texting Etiquette for Teens

Perhaps you remember the days before text messaging when teens talked with their mouths instead of their thumbs, using whole words and complete sentences. However, even if your teen's preferred means of communicating is texting, it doesn't mean that the golden rule of old-fashioned communication shouldn't apply. Tell your teen not to send any text messages that she wouldn't want to receive herself.

Face Test

To help keep your teen’s text etiquette on point, advise him to do a quick “face test,” meaning he should ask himself if he would say whatever he's about to text to the receiver's face. The anonymity of instant messages can give teens a false bravado, making them feel comfortable typing things they would -- or should -- never say. Tell your teen that good text etiquette means only sending messages you would communicate to a person if that person were standing right in front of you.

No Personal Business

Help your teen understand that once she sends out a text, she has no control over who will see it. The recipient can forward the message to someone your teen might not want to read it, upload the message on the Internet, or show it to every single boy in the locker room after gym. Smart texting etiquette means not sending any words or pictures (especially pictures! 1) that you don’t want the world to see.

Don't Text Angry

The subtle cues that help sharpen in-person communication, like tone of voice, facial expressions and intonation are missing from text messages, so words can easily be misconstrued. If feelings start to run hot during your teen’s text exchange, advise her to call her friend instead. Real live human contact is the best way to deal with raw emotions.

Call Me, Maybe

This might be “old school,” but if your teen is dating, advise her not to substitute text messages for real-live contact with her beloved. Tell your teen that she should really get to know the people with whom she gets involved, which is difficult if your main contact consists of typing messages back and forth. Don’t let your teen make the mistake of choosing "LOL" over really laughing with someone she likes.

Not Right Now

Explain to your teen that there are certain non-negotiable text etiquette rules: First and foremost, there should be absolutely no texting while driving, ever. Also, your teen shouldn't text in class because it’s disrespectful to teachers and fellow classmates. Further, there should be no texting in certain social situations -- like at the dinner table -- because it's simply rude and makes non-texters feel left out.