House rules for teen texting
I really like MomHouston’s “10 rules for tween texting”, but I recommend that – before they’re unveiled (ideally in a family discussion) – parents have repercussions in mind for when rules are not followed, as well as for who pays when a phone’s dropped in a tub or pool! Most of these are great for teens too, especially “No texting after bedtime,” “Answer me when I’m texting you,” and “More than 10 texts in a row and it’s time to pick up the phone” (some of these fall under the “Get a life” category, or in the Think About the Message Behind the Text Department). So much of this is common sense and courtesy, which stand us all in good stead regardless of age or the technology or device being used. For example, “Don’t text while fighting” is just the cellular version of “If you’re angry, sleep on it” (before you write, call, comment, email, blog, etc., etc.). This is about parenting, not technology! As we model this phone behavior for our kids, fewer rules are needed. A couple of MomHouston’s rules are more like pet peeves, which is fine – one size never fits all where kids’ tech use is concerned. One minor point where I differ with her: I’m not entirely sure I’d want my kids to turn off the ringer – sometimes it’s good to hear how much they’re texting, especially when they’re supposed to be focused on something else, such as homework or what Grandma’s saying! Lord knows their phones are on vibrate and they’re in stealth mode enough of the time. But tell me if you disagree with any of this (in comments here or in our ConnectSafely forum. For more on ageless cellphone etiquette for everybody, see this in the Washington Post.