Teens are text-messaging masters, and many teens send hundreds of texts each day. While most teens text as a way to communicate with family members and friends, a small number of teens send inappropriate texts that can put them at risk for a tarnished reputation and even criminal charges. Teach your teen how to text responsibly, but also have consequences in place for when she doesn't adhere to your rules.
Discuss the Issue
If you discover that your teen is sending or receiving inappropriate text messages, a heart-to-heart talk is necessary. In some cases, your teen might not understand why what she's doing is so bad, and a discussion with you will help show her the error of her ways. According to the Common Sense Media website, teens need boundaries when it comes to texting because it's such an immediate way to communicate and can be done at all hours of the day. That means that your teen might not always think through what she's saying to others. Sit your teen down and explain to her exactly why her texting is inappropriate and what you expect from her in the future. Let her know that if she doesn't follow your rules, consequences will ensue.
Limited Phone Time
Let your teen know that you'll be monitoring his text messages occasionally, and he's more likely to keep his texts appropriate, according to MayoClinic.com. Teens who continue to send and receive inappropriate text messages might need reduced time to converse on their phones. Limiting your teen's cell phone use sends the message that you're serious and that you aren't going to tolerate inappropriate texts. If you also notice that your teen sends inappropriate texts at certain times of day, such as evening after you've gone to bed, take his phone away during those times.
Cancel the Text Message Plan
If limiting your teen's text messaging doesn't work, you might have to call your cell phone provider and cancel your teen's text messaging plan all together. When your teen isn't able to send or receive text messages, she'll be required to find more appropriate ways to communicate with her friends. Try canceling her text messaging plan for a month and then allow her to try texting again. Chances are, she'll shape up in order to keep her text messaging plan in the future. If she still doesn't adhere to the rules, there's no rule that says you have to ever give her back her text messaging plan, Common Sense Media reports.
Texting while driving is dangerous. Remind your teen that he is not permitted to send or read text messages while he's driving, suggests Common Sense Media. If you find out he's ignoring this rule, taking his phone away for a period is one of the best courses of action that will keep him safe behind the wheel. Taking your teen's phone away might also be necessary if you discover he's sending or receiving sexually explicit messages or photos. Many teens don't realize that sexting is considered a crime in certain states and can lead to legal action. Remind your teen often that his reputation matters and that what he texts can significantly affect what others think of him. When he's thinking about the possible consequences, he's more likely to be appropriate.
- MayoClinic.com: Teen Texting: Help Your Teen Avoid the Risks
- Common Sense Media: Responsible Text Messaging Tips
- CNN: Teen Texting: Help Your Teen Avoid the Risks
- Common Sense Media: Is Texting Taking Over Your Teen?
- American Academy of Pediatrics: Talking to Kids and Teens About Social Media and Sexting
- Goodshoot RF/Goodshoot/Getty Images